The Love to Live | By Ruby Chbeir
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Beautiful 542 people,
We ought to be so So proud of ourselves, not hard on ourselves..

Because we live in a country that keeps us uncertain, agitated, stressed, in a constant race against time or political events.
Compared to runners from Europe and the developed world, well..
We have very few or no green, vast spaces dedicated to runners, their safety and their well-being and health. We run alongside cars and burned fuels;

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Yet,
We committed: we run, train, laugh, and sweat despite the toughest life conditions and probably underpaid pays at our workplaces;

We committed and we run every training, despite life’s stress, from traffic to Commuting from far regions at our own costs and time;

 We run, train, laugh together and motivate one another every time , even though each one of us is probably similarly struggling to keep our family well-off and happy, in this controversial country.

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However, Our beauty, the beauty of being here, now, is :
In Lebanon, it’s not just about the clean air and the vast fields.. it’s Us, the “people”, who share common values, the love to really ” live”.

From wherever we come in Lebanon, We share the exact same concerns, stress, burdens, and we share the same love to socialize, laugh, make friends, open up, meet others, share a common cause and push one another…don’t we?

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 I was abroad for a while… all there was however, most of the time, was big (really big) green fields, places that make you feel well taken care of – yea , they do; but something else was always missing ..

There was nothing like you people- who could make a normal place/ location/ sidewalk, one of the best experiences and places to spend the eve every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday:)

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To the most beautiful People i’m still meeting every time:

*Please Be proud of You*

Hats off to your commitment,
to all the effort you are putting in,

whether you started from 0 or 5 or 10, to “hero” is where we all already are.

 

WHY A MARATHON | By Mohamad Mawas
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This is the Story of 542er Mohamad Mawas. In his own words, Mawas explains the challenges he faced on the run, his short-lived running career and his reason to take on the marathon challenge and  the commitment  to 5 months of training for the gruesome distance with 542 coach Mustafa Ahmed.

YOUNG HUMAN, OLD RUNNER

My name is Mohamad Mawas. I’m a young human yet an old runner. See, ever since the launch of the Beirut marathon back in 2003 I never failed to participate. Whether it was a 5 kilometer race or 10 kilometer fun run, I just never missed that day. In 2008 I took things a bit more seriously  and decided to do a better time in the 10k race and so I did. Ever since that day I discovered a passion for this sport that I knew nothing about. Since 2008, I started putting on my running shoes every few days at 6 am and simply hit the road. Sunday runs where the most special ones as they became a ritual no matter how hard Saturday night was.  I started hitting the track, doing laps, intervals, and basically started sprinting. I loved the speed, the explosiveness, it simply felt great. After one month of going to the track, I was spotted by one of the Lebanese track and field clubs where I was asked if I was training with a club. Days later I was admitted to that club and was assigned to a coach. So, that was my life basically everyday.  I used to finish school, head to the sports city stadium, have my sandwich, do my homework, and begin training.

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CHALLENGES AHEAD

The season kicked off, I started racing every month, not missing any track event or road race. I was a mid-distance runner. I was acceptable on the 200m, 1500m, and 5k distances. As years passed by, I faced the injury of my life unfortunately. I was diagnosed with an intestinal bowl syndrome which lead to severe blood loss and internal inflammation. It was the worst thing that could happen to me yet. I lost weight badly, gained again in water due to medication, but mainly I lost my form. Although I was, in my mind, ready for a comeback, I failed. The symptoms reoccurred. I lost blood again, and had internal damages. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my running career. I was let off by the team as I am no longer of use in providing results. Track and field was no longer my escape so I went back to road running . Unfortunately again, this time my lungs were hit with an inflammation and suddenly I became asthmatic. I was banned from sports and mainly running for at least a year. I never listened, I went back a month later to the track and fell from jogging the first lap. I came back the second day did 2 laps, and fell again. This continued for a few months until I decided to register for a race at my own health expense without informing my coach. Race day came, February the 23rd 2012. I invited all my friends as I needed all the support I can get. The race started, it was all going well. I was able to maintain second place until the last 400m stretch were my body pulled me back till I collapsed at the finish line finishing in 6th. I woke up minutes later to find myself surrounded by 8 of my friends cheering me on. I did not win the race of course, but I won myself back. My coach saw me after the race and told me great job, yet I should keep it easy. Summer came by and I maintained a regular easy training on my own.

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LAU was next. During the fall of 2013, I went to the director of the athletics office and asked whether they have track team or not. He said no so I told him I’ll make one. Weeks passed by and I kept my word. I gathered up 5 students and a staff member and registered us for the Beirut marathon 42k relay race. We trained a couple of times and took part. We received 4th place in our category clocking 3 hours 36 minutes which wasn’t so bad for a group of first timers. Although the team wasn’t official, we did manage to grab some attention. The team grew month after month until we were 10 students in total. Our first win was in the Naqoura 2014 10k race were one of our runners managed to win 1st in his category and that’s how it started. We never missed a podium in a road race or track event after that until now. I was put as the captain/coach of my team in LAU and the success continued.

 

NOTHING CAN HOLD ME BACK

We grew year by year winning 2nd place in the Beirut marathon 2014 42k relay category clocking 3 hours 9 minutes. The team now is of 20 members and always in training. In the summer of 2015 my medical condition relapsed but this time my kidney got hit. I was hospitalized for a week and literally had no chance of getting back on the road. Yet of course, I didn’t listen and went back to running a month later aiming for a first place in the Beirut marathon 42k relay. November came and I was determined as ever. We won 1st place clocking 2 hours 54 minutes taking on the time record for our category. It was beautiful. My body got used to this pace and I just couldn’t stop running. We had an excellent season that year and some excellent runners too.

WHY A MARATHON (3)

In the 2016 Beirut marathon relay we managed to win 1st place again clocking 2 hours 50 minutes beating our own time record! And later on the 2016-2017 season, we didn’t miss a 1st place podium in all local races. I wasn’t theone winning, it was the team. Beautiful individual efforts. So here we are in summer of 2017 preparing for the 2017-2018 season starting with the Beirut marathon in November 12. I joined the 542 team and challenged myself to run the full marathon on my own not in a relay, but alone. It’s hard I have to admit that. I push myself in training as if it were a race.

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WHY A MARATHON?

So why a marathon? You see, all my life I’ve been living up to expectations. To limits beyond my capabilities. I always felt the need to perform more, to give more, and to show more even if it was on the expense of myself. For instance, I’m expected to run the full marathon on my own this November, and not only that, I’m expected to run it well. Looking back at my medical history, let’s just hope I finish it and that’s what I’m aiming for knowing that I probably could push harder. I’m running for myself this November, I’m running to show myself that I can simply do it. Passion, love, support, conflicts, and desire, this is what sports is all about, it’s a life package. I’m running to show my mother that I’m strong enough to be on my own physically, I’m running because it’s the only thing that never lets me down in my life despite the ups and downs, I’m running because I’m in love, in love with a never ending run because the road will eventually finish. I’m running because the Beirut marathon grew in me since I was a kid. I’m running because I know that without this sport in my life I wouldn’t have been where I am today.

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I’m running because I want to be able to tell myself and say that I am a marathoner and not just a runner.

What Type of Running Buddy are you?
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Running is often a solo affair, a one-on-one with yourself and your thoughts. It’s your chance to connect both physically and emotionally with your energy; it’s the time when the amazing machine that is your body performs to its limits and takes you even further than you thought was possible. However, on some days, you may not feel like getting out and facing yourself, no matter how perfect your machine is. That’s when you need to choose a good running buddy, a fellow runner to enjoy the run together. 

Here are 6 types of running buddies we’ve met around the city

Prepare for your cold Runs in Beirut
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Whenever I pass by Horsh Beirut and I see kids playing between the trees, I smile and think “Hey, I used to do that!” Jumping in puddles, walking barefoot in the snow and running in the rain, it felt incredibly liberating and yet you let it go as you grow up.

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to rediscover this feeling? The city is the only playground you ever need. Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of Beirut or prefer a quiet spot, there are so many places to enjoy running this winter.

 Baby, it’s cold outside

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Yesterday was so cold I could have worn the whole closet. Ok I’m not saying that Beirut is as cold as Switzerland but to me anything below 10 degrees Celsius equals Siberia. So I geared up with everything I had to go for a run: thermal top, jacket, gloves, hat and scarf. When I arrived to Zaitunay Bay I found Coach Walid in shorts. He looked at me while trying to contain his laughter and he said “I really hope it rains”.

And rain it did

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I soon learned that less is more when it comes to gearing up: long sleeves, long pants and a thin waterproof jacket are more than enough when you’re on the move. A Buff around your neck is also useful for all kinds of emergencies; you never know!

Persistence is key

if you wait for perfect conditions youll never get anything done

It helps, of course, to have an annoyingly nagging friend who always drags you to go running, but in case you’re on your own just remember that “Energy and persistence conquer all things”.  Stick to a schedule of twice or thrice per week, and you will not miss a run once you cling to your habit. It also helps if you avoid the peak rush hours. The best times to go out are early in the morning (before 6:30) or at night (after 7). You can make a trail from Gemayzé passing through Downtown to the AUB stairs.

Where there’s a café there’s a way

i miss hating the summer heat

I usually crave a drink while running and I imagine the warm cup waiting for me at the finish. So the streets of Hamra are very enticing as I pass the coffee shops and the people huddled inside. It’s such a pleasure to finish a run with your running buddies and relax with a friendly conversation, warming your limbs and your heart. Make sure to stretch well first and wear an additional layer of clothing to keep warm after the workout.

go out there and earn your hot cocoa

Come rain or shine, the Beirut 542 teams, Running clubs, interLebanon Club, Elite Running Club, Nike Running Club, Team Walid and many groups and individuals are always running up and down the Beirut Corniche. You will find most of them on a Sunday morning in Coffee shops after the run discussing the workouts, gear, and of course posting their favorite running pictures on social media platforms

I <3 Running

if running is difficult run more

There’s a quote that always makes me laugh: I <3 running (when I’m done). But what keeps me going is the amazing feeling when my face is warm, legs are tired and my senses are connected to the world around me: the runner’s high.

Beirut, habibi…The temperatures may drop but the running won’t stop!

caution running may cause extreme increase in mood

Photography by Daniel Harakeh

#beirutmarathon #runrunrun #runninginwinter #beirut #runninginbeirut

Say What? A Marathon? | By Caroline Zakka
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Today I start a new life, just like the entire Beirut542 runners do.

Today I am a new person, we all are. Stronger, smarter, faster…we just ran a marathon.

Today I know what real friendships are made of: pain, laughter, intimacy, encouragement, support.

Today I know that this city is amazing when it’s not burdened with traffic and noise.

Today I know what it means to love unconditionally.

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42.195 kilometers is a labor of love. We all had our reason to run it, and we all found a new reason as we did. It’s to feel pride when I see Mhammad go further than he ever has before. It’s to shed a melancholic tear when people pointed to the sky and smiled at me, knowing they shared my memories.

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It’s to be thankful when Mariam saw me tired and took my hand. It’s to feel grateful when Rebecca ran with me the last 3k clapping and singing to encourage me. It’s to feel happy when I saw Mary at the finish line congratulating me on accomplishing my dream.

Unconditional love is to see Mrs. May el Khalil waiting with Team Walid until the last runner arrived.

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How can this be the hardest thing I ever did when it was so much fun? I was high-fiving Raffi, shouting at Karen, saluting Samer, calling out their names and sprinting to catch up to them. As I did this I was encouraging myself. As I shouted Don’t Stop I was telling myself not to stop.

How can any other experience compare to this achievement now that I know what it takes to do it? It takes courage, grits and determination that I found within myself. It takes a combination of energy gels, Gatorade and H2O that worked as a furnace in my belly, burning like a jet engine that fuelled me into Beast Mode. And I looked like a monkey while I ran! I looked like Phoebe when Rachel was ashamed to jog with her in the park! But I didn’t have time to think of how I looked, because I was on a mission. My mission was to accomplish this amazing journey that had started with a wish and with so many doubts…

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Is it possible that the marathon cured my shin splint? Well, I feel nothing. The 3 months pain is gone, in one day. Is it possible that the marathon shed all my doubts and misconceptions about life and how to live it? Because like a caterpillar blossoming from a cocoon, I feel it has given me wings. It has given me freedom: of mind, of body, freedom of will.

My friend Aziz who participates in Spartan races and who finished the marathon with a leg injury has become one of my inspirations. He says “The secret of life is happiness, and the secret of happiness is freedom”. Thanks Aziz, I think I understand it now…

Yes, today I am a different person because I know what the world can be: I know that with sportsmanship and dedication the world, society and communities can change and prosper abundantly. I know that the Beirut Marathon organization is the most important positive influencer on our country and I would like to thank you.

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Thank you Albert: you are the most amazing organizer/ care-taker :) . Thank you Safa: you are a fantastic combination of motivational speaker/ angel. Thank you coach Walid: you have done nothing put point to the stars and show us how to reach them.

Thank you Mrs. May el Khalil: you are the maker of dreams.

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Now You! What are You waiting for? Get up, get out, and go find your freedom. Just Go train and run a marathon, then see how it will be the beginning of your personal journey.

See you out there on the streets! I will recognize you if you point your finger to the sky, and you will recognize me because I will always be smiling :)

I am so proud to have been a part of this experience and now my only question is: how soon can we do it again?
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