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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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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My father is a planner, a focused businessman with a mega-mind that can almost predict the future. I am not. I fumble and stumble into my life making it up as I go.

Growing up in his shadow I tried to be like him in everything but I failed miserably.


our last Selfie

Fast forward to a day in a white room that smells like disinfectant, with only a small window to look onto the world. I’ve been sleeping in the arm chair while my father lay awake unsatisfied with the TV channels and the unpalatable breakfast he was served. “Ya Caroline! Get up and get me some real coffee!”

He meant Starbucks. It was 6:30AM.

A few hours later on what would have been a lazy Sunday morning, we were sharing a croissant and two tall lattes, watching the IV drip drip drip into his skinny deflated arm. That arm that held me up when I was born, that arm that taught me to sign my name, that arm that showed me how to drive.

“So let’s get down to business” he said out of nowhere. “What are you going to do with your life?”

“What do you mean?” I replied to the weird question.

“I mean you know what I mean. You need a goal, a project”.

Ok was this really the time?  You’re still going to tell me what to do even as we await another doctor with another diagnosis? Why can’t we talk about something fun like…like movies or traveling? Why are you so serious all the time?

“Because life is not a joke”.

At that moment the nurse we called “angel of death” walked in. I couldn’t stand her enthusiastic demeanor. Like what are you so happy about tending to sick people in a hospital? Haram I think she knew I was judging her because I never spoke to her #Sorry. But I was busy with bigger problems.

I had to pack and go back to Canada. I had just recently moved there but I was already thinking of moving back home.

As I waited impatiently for my brother to arrive so that I could go shower and change, I flicked through the channels: sharks on Discovery, Lebanese sitcoms, BBC news, something about people running. This looks interesting “Pap look, you like running”. He barely answered turning in his bed, but I watched and heard the promo for Beirut Marathon 2013.

I’d always admired people who can physically push themselves to their limits, mainly because they discover how far they can go and they prove that they have more strength than they ever thought. Strength that I needed very much at this moment to get over the idea that I might lose my role model.

I came back that night to say goodbye and tell my father that I’ll see him soon, and I gave him an answer to his question. “Pap I’m gona run the marathon!”


I’m not sure he believed me but I got a smile out of him and it was good enough for me.

On Sunday November 13, 2016 I will be fulfilling my promise. I’m finally getting there thanks to Beirut542 and Team Walid. My dad may not be waiting for me at the finish line but I know he will be cheering for my first medal ever.

Pap I hope you’re proud! I’ll see your face in the clouds and hope that you’re smiling.



A runner’s Journey to Marathon Success | By Paul Gains
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From enduring bombings to running the Beirut Marathon: One runner’s journey to marathon success

During a time of political crisis, Tsegai Tewelde had to leave his home in Eritrea. He moved to Scotland and focused on his running. Now, he’s preparing to run with the lead pack at the IAAF Silver certified Beirut Marathon.



Champions must often overcome formidable odds to achieve success but few have had to persevere through the obstacles life has put in front of marathon runner Tsegai Tewelde.

بركض 42.195 كم لأول مرة ومن كل قلبي | by Patricia Rizkallah
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!كنت لما شوف ناس عم تركض الصبح بالأيام القليلة يللي أوعى فيا بكير قول شو صاير عليهن. أنا لو ملّكوني الدني ما بركض

.هلّق صرت بقول لو بملكوني الدني ما بوقف ركض

بلش الحلم، بلّش المشوار، بلّش التحدي. مش هينة لحدا ما بحياتو ركض يقرر يركض ماراثون بس ليش لاء؟ ما في شي مستحيل

ما بحياتي كنت بعرف إنو الركض بخليك تحس كل الأحاسيس مع بعضا. بتنبسط و بتزعل، بتعصب و بتروق، بتيأس و بتتأمل و بتحب. و بتحب و ما فيك إلا ما تحب

نحنا اليوم ببيروت ٥٤٢ حبينا بعض من دون أي سؤال، من دون أي سبب، ما منعرف دين، ما منعرف لون، ما منعرف فئة إجتماعية.. منعرف نحب وبس، و يا ريت كل الدني متلنا كنا منكون بألف خير

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About 40,000 runners are expected for the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon on Sunday November 13 and while runners trot through the course, others may have a harder time getting around specific areas in the City of Beirut

In coordination with the security forces and concerned officials, the following streets will be closed Sunday  between 6 a.m. and 2:00 p.m ( They open gradually)