'Owning the streets' once again: Cairo Runners' fourth half marathon draws thousands

Ingy Deif , Friday 15 Apr 2016

Friday morning saw thousands of enthusiastic runners take to the streets of Maadi for the biggest event in the running calendar

Photo by :Ahram Online

The usual calmness of Maadi bright and early on a Friday morning was broken today by a flow of running enthusiasts who had donned their running shoes and yellow t-shirts and come from around the country to participate in the Cairo Runners' highly anticipated annual half marathon.

Just like the previous three years, the enthusiastic spirit could be felt in the air as participants brimmed with energy despite the early hour.

The streaks of bright yellow - Cairo Runners' signature t-shirt colour -- could be spotted everywhere, with over 7,000 runners participating in the event, according to Cairo Runners' Aya Safwat.

Photo by :Ahram Online

Many athletic communities, including Alexandria Runners and Mansoura Runners, took part, representing various different governorates.

Aya Metwally, a member of the running community Alexandria Runners, said that they had been training for several weeks. "The organisation was superb and the spirit is something to be proud of," she said.

During the run the streets of Maadi were literally pounding to the rhythm of drums played by youth members of Abo El-Hol Scouts, who played their drums to boost the enthusiasm of the crowds.

Photo by :Ahram Online

Photo by :Ahram Online

Adrenaline pumped through the runners who were stretching and warming up in front of the stage, where they increased gradually in numbers until the inner stage was over flooding with people jumping to the beat of music.

Men, women and children of all ages and different backgrounds as well members of the special needs community could be spotted pounding the track, a beautiful spectacle of positive energy and enthusiasm

Photo by :Ahram Online

The runners then put their skills and capabilities to the test, following the assigned routes which had been divided into three competitions: the 21km half marathon, the 7km half race, and the 1km family race.

It was clear that the number of those participating in the 21k run had increased notably compared with previous years.

Over 300 volunteers were stationed along the routes, cheering every single runner as they passed. For the 1km family run, children's entertainment with jugglers, clowns and more provided a fun spectacle.

Photo by :Ahram Online

The event did not disappoint, with participants hailing its success and the spirit that prevailed.

"The weather was a bit hot and the sun was scorching, but it was definitely quite an experience and worth the effort," Ahmed Salah, 30, said as he received his certificate of completion.

“The event is amazing! It is the first time I took part in a half marathon, and it is amazing for it to be in Cairo,” said Adam from Scotland, as he reached the end of his 7km race.

Photo by :Ahram Online

As the three runs came to an end, participants gathered on the main stage to witness a show by Parkour performers Egy Flo, and then cheered loudly as local band Cairokee took the stage.

The Cairo Runners are one of the country’s most successful fitness groups, and are known for providing activities that suit all ages and fitness levels and for their advocacy for healthier lifestyles.

They take to the streets of Cairo early in the morning, before traffic becomes hazardous, encouraging people to lead healthier lifestyles and have fun at the same time.

In the early days participants at their events numbered around 70, but the group has since expanded dramatically and now big events draw thousands. They also have over 425,000 likes on their Facebook page.

The annual half marathon is undisputedly their jewel in the crown, attracting thousands each year, as well as a few local celebrities.

They are also known for their support for charity; half of the proceeds of this year’s half marathon tickets will go towards supporting charity, particularly to the cause of providing electricity and light to poor villages in Egypt.

Photo by :Ahram Online

Today’s race was celebrated not only as the Cairo Runners’ fourth half marathon, but also as the 70th race since the running community was established.

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