Anoosheh Ashoori and Richard Ratcliffe team up in London race to help hostages in Iran

Mr Ashoori, who spent five years detained in Tehran, ran the 10km race in aid of charity helping hostages

Anoosheh Ashoori, left, and Richard Ratcliffe celebrate at end of the Vitality London 10km race outside Buckingham Palace. Photo: Elika Ashoori
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Anoosheh Ashoori, a former hostage of Tehran, and Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, have teamed up to run to raise awareness of human rights abuse in Iran.

The pair completed the Vitality London 10km race through the streets of the UK capital on Sunday and have set their sights on next year's London Marathon.

About 15,000 people took part in Sunday's run through closed streets, passing some of the city’s major landmarks.

Mr Ashoori, 69, ran in aid of Hostage International, a charity that offers help and support to relatives of people who have been abducted or illegally detained.

He was joined by Mr Ratcliffe who also took part in the race as preparation for next year’s marathon.

“It was a challenge. Physically I was completely drained but mentally I was on top,” Mr Ashoori told The National.

Since being released from Evin prison in Tehran and flown back to the UK alongside Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe in March 2022, Mr Ashoori has taken up running as he recovers from five years in detention.

He has set his sights on running the London Marathon for the third time next year and is working with Mr Ratcliffe to recruit former hostages and their families to form a running group.

“I am planning to encourage more people to join us and Richard is being a great help,” Mr Ashoori said. “We intend to ask ex-hostages and their family members to join us in the big event – London Marathon 2024 – as a team to promote social awareness and do some fund-raising for Hostage International and Hostage Aid.”

The two men posed at the finish line near Buckingham Palace with their medals in a moment of victory.

The route started on The Mall and went past landmarks including Admiralty Arch, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, Somerset House, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.

Mr Ratcliffe told The National he felt inspired by his running partner’s efforts to do what he can to raise awareness of those still detained in Iran.

“Anoosheh is an inspiration for many of us in the hostage community because he is such an example of resilience and a reminder that all of us can make it through, one step at a time,” the father of one said.

“As we were running next to each other yesterday, Anoosheh was remembering the cellmates he used to run with for all those hours around the prison yard, some of whom are still there.

“It was a reminder of why the family team matters, for the families of those not forgotten still trying to keep sane running around that yard and also for those now out the other side, recovering a healthier balance in our lives again.

“I am glad he is profiling the work of the hostage charities and the recovery needs they help with.”

Updated: September 25, 2023, 3:40 PM