Entre Deux mon coeur balance| By Claudia Chamaa
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Jamais de ma vie, je n’aurais imaginé que la décision de courir le marathon allait requérir de moi autant de sacrifices et de dévouement.

J’ai grandi avec une passion: L’équitation.

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Je pratique ce sport depuis plus de 19 ans et je participe régulièrement à des compétitions qui ont lieu généralement les dimanches matin. En m’inscrivant au programme Beirut 542, j’ai pensé que j’allais pouvoir participer à ces tournois équestres tout en m’entraînant pour mon premier marathon. J’ai même avisé mon entraîneur (Coach Ali) dès le début, que je ne pourrai m’engager auprès de mon équipe chaque dimanche. J’ai continué à pratiquer quotidiennement mon sport, même les jours d’entraînement (mardi et jeudi) et ce au dépend de douleurs que je ressentais au genou droit.

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Four years ago Sisay Jisa Mekonnen burst upon the world marathoning scene with a stunning debut at the 2012 Paris Marathon.

Jisa’s third place performance in a time of 2:06:27 caught many observers off guard. But the result was not a surprise to his many training partners, whom he entertains with his quick wit and sense of humour.

I was looking for a team and found a Family | By Melissa Martinez
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I was bored, i was lonely, i was homesick.

What does a foreigner in Beirut do to cope?

I RAN…

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I ran almost every morning after my arrival in Beirut. Everyday, I would smile at the other runners hoping that i make a runner friend. I would ask people i met, those i was introduced to, random people in my neighborhood who spoke to me, people at work if they ran too, but I was not very lucky.
i ran less and less until one day i just stopped, but my runner soul could not keep still.
When i heard about the Beirut international marathon, i didn’t blink, told myself, I’m running this.
When i discovered Beirut542, my first thought was “a training plan, people to train with, lets go!”
I missed the orientation and was assigned to a random team whose coaches or members i have not met or seen.
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It took me a good six months to find people to run with, but when i finally did, i didn’t just find a team, they became my family. Every training day, we learn and discover things that makes us better not just as runners but as people. We share the struggles and joy of training and celebrate every person’s victory. We become strong runner individuals and even stronger as a collective. Our coaches are our pillars and every person in the team a foothold.
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Tuesdays Thursdays and Sundays have become a ritual i look forward to.
I still run by myself some days but my head and my heart are never alone.my team, Team Ali Karim, has it’s spirit with me always.
Seri Runs 21KM this Nov 13
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t is said that autistic people have little interest in things, not this kid! Seri Beyhum is a young man who portrays immense interest and enthusiasm in one particular sport: RUNNING!12234991_10153731976504914_4729459847375316146_n

“Seri is extremely built athletically and enjoys physical activity.  However he doesn’t play many of the team sports because he lacks the patience and cannot stick to the rules of engagement of many of the games.  As such, running has been a wonderful sport for him.  Seri has picked up a healthy activity that will hopefully stay with him and one that he can do anywhere and at any time.  He has become very conscious of his stamina now and is better able to gauge his own energy and strength.  As he becomes more mature, he may be able to take his running to a higher level.” Says Suha, Seri’s mother.

What is so interesting about Seri as an individual is the fact that he is the perfect example of how individuals with autism can integrate well into society; Seri, a very bright and special kid, has decided to raise awareness about the Lebanese Autism Society through running a full 21.1KM at the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon this November.

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Seri is running a half Marathon with an open heart, determined mind, and a great coach by his side, Ali Wehbe.  There is nothing stoping him from reaching his goal! The only challenge Seri will face is keeping a “slow” pace throughout the race, as he is prone to sprint it all with all the excitement within.

Seri’s mother explains how her son Seri decided to join this year’s race:
“Seri has always been a good runner but we never had the chance to explore it much with him due to the excessive time he used to spend in therapy.  For the past year’s he’s been running a full 10km and always take the podium.  He enjoyed it so much!  When the Beirut Marathon started placing the statues around town, Seri was super excited about joining and that’s when we sprang into action”.

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Seri sure knows how to commit, for he has been running three times per week on the “Corniche” with “Ali Wehbe”, an elite runner and a friend of the family.

However fulfilling running on the streets of Lebanon, Seri makes it clear that he can’t wait to try the actual circuit. For a runner, the actual circuit is not just a road; it is a special cat walk where runners impress us with their determination and perseverance!

Seri’s favorite sport is running of course, but can anyone guess why? Being outdoors is something we all naturally enjoy; nature does all hearts minds and souls good. And having few rules is something we all embrace, thus it is only natural that running is one of the most favorite free sports that we all can engage in. This is particularly what excites Seri about running, and what pushes him to endure all hardships that come along

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It is a very good opportunity to shed the light not only on the importance of running as a humanitarian sport, but the beauty of a soul as noble as Seri’s, so strong, so committed, and so respectful, and very cheerful and full of hope.

Lebanon can raise its head with pride with such stories of perseverance and hope. Yes there is hope, and what is more cheerful than hope!

It seems as though life puts forth many obstacles for humans, and it seems as though humanity manages to break them all. So cheers to Humanity that keeps running for the Long run, for a better Tomorrow and a brighter Lebanon

 

Putting Lebanon On The Sporting Map | By Paul Gains
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One hundred and fifty six women lined up for the Rio Olympic marathon August 14th and among them was a 32 year old Lebanese who could hardly contain her pride.

Chirine Njeim took up running just as her career as a downhill skier was winding down. Three times she competed in the winter Olympics before wearing the Lebanese flag in Rio. That marathon race earned her a distinction which only a very select few athletes can boast: being both a winter and summer Olympian.

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Asked from where she drew inspiration to become a runner she says it was her sister’s performance at the 2012 Beirut Marathon.

A year ago, to rapturous applause, Chirine was the first Lebanese woman to cross the line in the 2015 Beirut Marathon something her sister Nesrine achieved three years earlier. On November 13th she returns to the IAAF Silver Label race as a four time Olympian.

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Njeim has lived in Chicago with her husband since 2012. In January she beat her own Lebanese national record with a time of 2:44:19 in Houston, which earned her that summer Olympic berth. Returning elicits precious memories.

“My sister started running before me and she did the Beirut marathon three years ago,” Njeim explains fondly. “Running wasn’t something big in Lebanon; I never really paid attention to it. But when my sister first ran, and was the first Lebanese finisher, I was kind of switching from skiing. Part of me was like, it would be fun to go to Lebanon and run a marathon, and that’s when I definitely got more involved.”

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While the event has inspired her to become an individual success she also speaks with glowing pride about her ‘hometown’ race and the effect it can have on the Middle East as well as people’s perception of Lebanon.

“For Lebanon to be able to host a marathon this is something huge,” she declares. “Most of the time when you see people gathering in Lebanon it’s because something bad has happened. So having a marathon with people being on the street for a happy reason it means a lot to me.

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“Also running is not a huge thing in Lebanon. But it’s slowly growing. So being able to go to Lebanon and represent my country and be a role model for all the young kids is huge to me. May El Khalil has been doing an amazing job bringing people over there.”

Njeim is not alone in her praise of the Beirut Marathon President and founder. Indeed, this is the 14th annual Beirut Marathon and it’s origin can be traced directly to Ms. El Khalil’s initiative. Her story is astonishing.

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While out training for a marathon fifteen years ago she was hit by a truck and rushed to hospital. She was in a coma and endured two years of operations.

“That was a turning point in my life,” Ms. El Khalil recalls. “After waking up from a coma I realized I was not going to be the same person I used be. But instead of pitying myself or asking ‘why me?’ I decided to turn this problem into an opportunity and set a higher objective for myself. And that objective was, in case I couldn’t run myself, why not come up with an event or do a marathon in Lebanon, where others could run and connect Lebanon with the outside world.

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“So setting that objective definitely was a cognitive thing for me to recover and, during the two years of operations, I was working on the marathon. In 2003 we had the first international marathon.”

El Khalil and her long serving crew approached Lebanese-American athletes representative, Hussein Makke five years ago for help in raising the event’s profile. In that time the Beirut Marathon has been rewarded IAAF Silver Label status a sign that it is a world class event.

“The main reason for getting involved is my belief in their mission along with their dedication to making a difference in a country that suffered more than thirty years with division, war and conflict,” Makke says.

“The biggest difference I have noticed is the level of professionalism. The elite program has become elevated to be one of the most professional run programs in the world. Their focus on developing the road race community in Lebanon has also been tremendous.”

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Makke points to the ‘542 program’ which has developed first time marathoners. The Beirut Marathon provides five coaches to work with individual registered runners to prepare for their first marathon. From humble beginnings the program has grown to include more than five hundred runners this year. They will join thousands of others on the streets to celebrate peace.

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Meanwhile it is with a great deal of excitement that Chirine Njeim returns to Beirut next month. A year ago she crossed the line with deafening applause from the finish line crowd.

“I am excited, I am ready for it,” she admits. “I know it’s been kind of a long year. It will be my fifth marathon I am excited to be there and support all the young athletes and be a role model for them.

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“My mum and dad still live there and my two brothers. It will be nice to see them. My sister will also be running the marathon and it will be fun to run with her.”

There were tears of joy when Chirine Njeim represented Lebanon in Rio and no doubt there will be more tears shed when she runs Beirut next month. Thanks to the establishment of this marathon other Lebanese will be able to follow her onto the international stage.