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

Beirut 542 Generation 2016: Where are they now?
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As you may know by now, the Beirut 542 is a training program aimed at first time marathon runners who wish to train with the Beirut Marathon organization. You sign up for free, and you are assigned to a team and a coach who prepares you both physically and mentally for the incredible challenge or running 42.195 Kilometers. After the marathon, you are a proud marathoner and there ends your journey with Beirut 542, and a new journey with distance running begins..

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However, for some reason, the people who join Beirut 542 never want to leave… one of them even created a petition to make the Beirut 542 a year-round running group.

Now in its fourth year, a testament to the success of Beirut Marathon and its organizers (All BMA team Mrs. May Khalil, Miss. Safa Salem, program coordinator Albert Cheaib and Abou El Zouz) the Beirut 542 is a glitch in the Matrix, an unexpected phenomenon…Equally such are the coaches and the runners who graduate year after year.

Coach Houry Sofian- Beirut 542 Team Houry-Charbel

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Coach Houry ran her first Beirut Marathon in 2014. It’s true that she is the youngest 542 Coach but she’s also one of the toughest: she completed the 250K Ultra Marathon to raise awareness for the Lebanese Autism Society (RunSawa) and then she participated in the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon alongside her team. She has not stopped running while maintaining her busy schedule and is currently training to run the Berlin Marathon this April.

Issam Khadra- Beirut 542 Team Walid

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In 2014 Issam ran his first 10K. He had always been a runner but joining Beirut 542 in 2016 has allowed him to up his game and realize his full talent. This year he will run the Rotterdam Marathon in April and the Beirut Marathon in November, and he never misses a training come rain or shine. He jokingly says that his life is divided into Pre-542 and Post-542. Post-542 is much more fun of course ;)

Karen Al Harakeh- Beirut 542 Team Ali-Karim

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A true champ Karen finished the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon despite her ankle and knee injuries.  This MVR ( most valuable player) is training as a fitness instructor after transforming from couch potato to gym hero. Balancing her busy career as an engineer while keeping a strict gym schedule, she stays up to date with the Beirut 542 events and her tightly knit circle of friends. Her sights are on completing the 2017 Beirut Marathon in less than 4 hours 30 minutes.

Khodr Atwi- Beirut 542 Team Jihad-Ch

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Khodr kept up all his sports activities (football, swimming) while he has not stopped running since the 2016 Beirut Marathon and is currently training to run in Paris this April. He took over training his Beirut 542 team while their coach was away, representing the true spirit of Beirut 542: dedication, devotion and persistence.

Mira Akawi- Beirut 542 Team Georges

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Mira is a swimmer, biker, skier, cheerleader, gymnast…and a runner. She had to manage her university schedule while traveling for sports competitions abroad and keeping up her running training. She says that thanks to Beirut 542 she is able to call herself a runner, because in her life she hadn’t run more than a kilometer. Mira will next run the 42K relay in Saida Marathon and then the upcoming BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon on Nov 12, 2017.

 

In the end here’s a little something to the new faces we’ll see in 2017:

Hey You!  The new runner who wants to register for Beirut 542!

BEWARE: the 2016 generation is watching you! You can’t steal our coach’s affection and you can’t share our WhatsApp group!

Oops, sorry, did I say that out loud? I meant Welcome to the family. See you on November 12 at the 2017 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon!

#beirut542 #beirutmarathon #generation2016rules

5 Nearby Marathon destinations to run in 2017
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It’s official: running has become a widespread hobby. Everywhere you go in Lebanon you see colorful bandanas and funky hats bobbing around the mountain, city streets and the cornice. We have embraced running as part of the health craze sweeping the nation.

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Running is good for your mood no matter how young or young at heart you are! Add to it a little sightseeing and you’ve got a complete travel experience you’ll never forget!

If you’re looking for a running event not too far away, not too costly and not too difficult to organize, here’s what’s going on around the region in the coming months.

Pack your bags, clear your schedule and get in touch with the Beirut Marathon Association (BMA) who can assist you with registration, special travel packages and hotel bookings. BMA is in direct contact with the organizers of the following races and as usual Mr. Albert Cheaib is there to help with any required information.

March 5 – Logicom Cyprus Marathon

 

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The main distance of the event which features breath-taking scenery from Start to Finish. Starting at Aphrodite’s Birthplace, the course follows a coastal route along the Mediterranean sea. Throughout the course you will discover the small and traditional villages of Pafos and enjoy the famous Mediterranean hospitality with fluid stations every 3km and cheering support in most of the course. The course is accreddited by AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) and is clearly marked at every kilometer.

The Marathon will start from Petra Tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Birthplace) Register here

March 19- Limassol, Cyprus – 42K Marathon and 21K Half Marathon

 

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Registration is Free of Charge through Beirut Marathon Association

The famous Limassol promenade is the start of this yearly awaited event, with its lush palm trees and translucent water.

The Marathon slogan “Run with a smile” is a good sign if you ask me! You’re already off to a good start in this party capital.

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This package below is exclusive to Beirut Marathon runners only, so please contact Race Director Wissam Terro if you wish to guarantee a spot (e: albert.cheaib@beirutmarathon.org tel:+96170984039)

  • Free entry to the race of their choice
  • Accommodation for 2 nights to the official Limassol Marathon GSO Hotels
  • Official Limassol Marathon T-Shirt
  • Microchip Timing by MyLaps
  • Finisher Diploma
  • Finisher Medal
  • Free Pasta Party Pass
  • Free After Party Pass
  • Race Pack delivered to your hotel upon arrival
  • Free Transportation from your hotel to the start line at the race day
  • Free Transportation from your Hotel to the Start Line
  • Flight tickets are not included
Bed & Breakfast
Single Double
3 Star Hotel €146 + €48 per extra night €208 + €54 per extra night
4 Star Hotel €200 + €75 per extra night €280 + €90 per extra night
5 Star Hotel €246 + €98 per extra night €340 + €120 per extra night
Half Board
Single Double
3 Star Hotel €162 + €56 per extra night €228 + €64 per extra night
4 Star Hotel €230 + €90 per extra night €356 + €128 per extra night
5 Star Hotel €280 + €115 per extra night €410 + €155 per extra night

 

April 14 – Dead Sea, Jordan- 50K Ultra Marathon and 21K Half Marathon

 

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Organized by Run Jordan, this one of a kind adventure has everything to enchant you. The Dead Sea area is one of the most fascinating and historic places in the world, and it would be a great opportunity to enjoy some sightseeing around the desert and the city.

Don’t be startled that it’s an Ultra Marathon…if you can run 42K you can run 50K.

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April 23 -Sidon, Lebanon – 42K Marathon, Special needs 42K, Relay 42K

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Hello Saida! The capital of the South is celebrating becoming the first handicapped friendly city in Lebanon. With its first international marathon we hope that it will be a success and that Sidon will keep spreading this message of peace and social equality.

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November 12- Beirut, Lebanon- 42K Marathon and 21K Half Marathon

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What can be said about the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon?

I remember the first time I saw the START line. All that energy and emotion affected me so much that I started crying even though I had never thought I’d be a part of it!

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Now in its 15th year, it has become the region’s biggest and most anticipated social event gathering Lebanese and visitors for a day of celebration within the capital. What a festival of life and colors this will be!

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Do you know of any other running events in the region? email me at: carozakka@gmail.com

Run far, run free: the story of Rocky Kiblawi
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The music is loud, the crowd is cheering…the punches come so fast that you can’t see them but you can hear them as they hit…within 10 seconds a man is thrown across the ring, falls and doesn’t get up. The fighter catches his breath, comes close to take a look at his K.O. opponent and raises his arms in victory as the voices chant ROCKY! ROCKY!

rocky ko

This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s just another day in the life of Rocky Kiblawi, our very own Lebanese action hero who ran the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon.

rocky fighter

Fighter, marathoner, Lebanese champion

The Muay Thai world champion has been fighting since he was a kid but when you see his fun personality and how he puts everyone at ease in his gym Shogun, you forget that he’s a mean machine. In fact, he could knock you out and then with the same hands prepare you a delicious meal since he studied Hotel Management in London and worked 20 years in the F&B industry before focusing his complete attention on being an athlete.

kru rocky grand master sami kru louai kiblawi

But with so much to do: championships in Thailand, training the Lebanese army, private students, family…why did the Kru Yai (Teacher/ Assistant Master) decide to run a marathon?

Because it was a challenge

The first time he went on a long run he barely made it to the end of 16K, and that’s when he decided that this would be his new obsession: to conquer long distance running. Then he researched running groups and found the Beirut Marathon’s Beirut 542 training program.

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He had always been into all kinds of sports (kickboxing, scuba diving) but running has captured his heart.

The taste of freedom

Rocky found in running a sport that has no limitations. He saw people older than him and less fit than him pass him on the road during races; and it was very humbling and put everything into perspective. Running is something that anyone at any stage of their life can do. You must only get through the hard work while your legs accumulate kilometers and then you have gained the world. “It’s so freeing”.

rocky finish line

Since he started running Rocky has participated in all the races he could find over the seven months leading up to the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon which he finished in 3 hours 33 minutes, an amazing time for a first marathon. He fit his running program into his busy everyday life, in-between his gym schedule and his students. To some this sounds like a nightmare, but to Rocky it was a dream. “I was ecstatic that I didn’t have to watch what I ate while I ran so much. I ate like a beast and still lost weight”.

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Train hard, fight easy

Rocky says that in running, just like Muay Thai, one needs all the support he can get. Had he not gotten local support from friends like Mr. Elie Khoury, he wouldn’t have been able to fulfill his dreams. He hopes that one day he will be the one to help the future generation win medals, participate in tournaments abroad and keep Lebanon on the international sports map.

rocky with elie khoury

All these accomplishments and these new goals, is there anything else Rocky wants?

“Yes, always. I want to run a 250K Ultra Marathon for which I will train this year.”

“Wow, impressive.”

“And then I want to skydive.”

“But Rocky, you told me you were afraid of heights.”

He smiled and said “Exactly.”

rocky training

 

Follow Rocky’s journey:

Instagram: rockykiblawi

Facebook: Kru Yai Rocky Kiblawi, Rocky Kiblawi, Shogun 2.

YouTube: Rocky Kiblawi.

Running My Own Experience | By Tala Karim
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The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

 Working Experience

Working for two months as an intern at the Beirut Marathon Association was an extremely rewarding experience. Thanks to my two supervisors, Lara and Safa, I had the opportunity to explore the communication field through its different aspects. By preparing presentations, writing articles, covering events on social media, attending meetings with creative agencies, and joining the TVC shoot for the big Marathon 2016, this internship has definitively increased my interest in pursuing my career in the media and communication field.

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BMA

It is not by chance that I chose to apply in the Beirut Marathon Association. I love sport and I love Lebanon.
I really admire the work that BMA is doing as well as its ambition and generosity. BMA is a small organization that likes to act BIG. By organizing small marathons, BMA is able to help many NGOs; all aiming to support a different cause. BMA’s goal is to guide Lebanon, our beautiful country, towards a better future (environmentally, politically, healthily, and socially speaking). BMA is a hope for our country; it has the power to gather 40 000 people for only one cause.

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The Team

The BMA team is like a big group of friends. For each birthday, someone brings a cake; for each lazy Friday, we eat order foul; and for each lunch, desks become tables to eat. I will not reveal the number of food deliveries coming at our office per day!

Other than the fact that they are all food lover, they all have a team spirit and like to help each other. The team is very friendly. It really did not take me long to be friend with all the members of each department.
I remember the day I played ping-pong and basketball with a small ball and a bin during my breaks. I am very glad to have worked in such a funny, yet professional atmosphere.

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Beirut542

Even if it was honestly hard to wake up every Sunday at around 5AM for the weekly Long Run event of the Beirut542 program, I really, really enjoyed it. Going to Zaytouna Bay and seeing all the motivated runners made me happy. It was such an amazing experience to go and cover this weekly event on social media. People participating in that program are just incredible; they spread so much positive vibes and good energy. It is hard to express the feeling you get when you see those people running and surpassing themselves. You just want to tell them “Do not give up! You can do it!” Their motivation made me want to run with them. After each run, I used to come back home in such a good mood thanks to them.
The Beirut542 program is maybe the best part of my internship. Thank you to all the 542 runners to have made my internship such a more enjoyable experience. I wish you the best of luck for the marathon. You are all champions.

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