Run Jordan builds support for marathons

Runners take part in the 2012 Amman International Marathon. [Photo courtesy of Run Jordan]

Runners take part in the 2012 Amman International Marathon. [Photo courtesy of Run Jordan]

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Run Jordan, a non-profit launched last month, is encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to take up running as a sport.

The association, formed through a public-private partnership, encourages Jordanians to adopt healthy and positive lifestyles, and seeks to build support for marathons for their role in promoting health and tourism, said Run Jordan deputy director Lina al-Kurd.

The association plans to create a countrywide running programme for children and youth in collaboration with the education and sports sectors, al-Kurd said. It will also train male and female runners and people with special needs in order to enhance their capacity to participate and compete at the regional and international level.

Because several marathons and half marathons are held annually in Jordan, such as the Amman International Marathon and the Dead Sea Marathon, "the association's founders envisioned it as an umbrella organisation managing these activities, and helping revitalise tourism through expanding to other areas", al-Kurd told Al-Shorfa.

"Marathon running is one of the most prominent sports in Jordan," she said, noting the recent successes of Salameh al-Aqra, who won second place at the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, and Methkal Abu Drais who won the Stockholm International Marathon.

Discipline, perseverance and sportsmanship

Run Jordan's founding committee includes 20 individuals and corporations from various sectors, including sports, tourism, health and culture, al-Kurd said.

Membership is open to everyone, she said.

On September 27th, the association will hold its first activity, a children's race at the Marathon Village, she said.

The Amman Marathon is set for October 4th, and the Red Sea Half Marathon will be held for the ninth consecutive year on December 6th.

Yahya Qtaishat, a sports journalist at Al-Ghad newspaper, welcomed Run Jordan, saying it represents "a quantum leap in the field of organising marathons".

The association will help organisers avoid past mistakes, he said, "especially since the races include broad international participation, and significant cash prizes have been allocated".

It is crucial that Run Jordan organise marathons on sound foundations, with well thought out plans and programmes, he told Al-Shorfa.

"This will have an impact on participants' results and achievements, especially in the long races in which the individual exercises discipline, perseverance and learns the importance of setting priorities, which deepens the spirit of healthy sportsmanship," he said.

Qtaishat said he hopes the association's activities will contribute to Jordan's sports prestige on the global level.

Professional long-distance runner Hashem Abu Ayash asked that more attention be given to the sport.

"We must pay attention to running due to its enormous health benefits, and how it teaches youth a competitive spirit, away from harmful habits such as smoking," he said. "This sport has no complicated technical or financial requirements, and can be enjoyed even by people with special needs and disabilities."

Run Jordan founders and supporters include the Greater Amman Municipality, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Jordan Olympic Committee, Jordan's Paralympics Committee, the Jordan Athletics Federation, Jordan's Gendarmerie, the International Athletics Federation and the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.

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