Lahore Marathon 2007

Posted on January 15, 2007
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Sports
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By Bilal Zuberi

A marathon is more than just another race. For history buffs, the name “marathon” supposedly comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier who, according to legend, was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been miraculously defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping, but moments after proclaiming his message to the city, he collapsed dead tired.

But more importantly, those who train and then run in a marathon develop a mindset that truly distinguishes them from others: its about patience, discipline, strength, and stamina. Marathon runners develop a laser sharp focus, and by training for a single long distance (42.2 kms) race, they develop an apreciation for long hard struggles that one often faces.

No, I am not a marathon runner, but I seriously admire those who participate in this endurance sport. My partner in business does run the Boston marathon, and I admire his discipline in training. He trains rigorously and steadfastly for months, watches his weight, his heart beat, and his timing, leading up to the event itself which lasts more than 4-5 hours even for some of the best non-professional runners. Truth be told, I am yet to come across a marathon runner who has not felt a positive impact of the sport on their life, and if I had any additional energy left for a physical sport, I would certainly consider taking it on.

I am reminded today of this sport because I read in the news about the 3rd International Lahore Marathon. In a country like Pakistan, where avenues for physical training and activity are extremely limited, the promotion of an international marathon race, despite idiotic opposition from some religious groups, is a wonderful sign of increased sensibility towards physical and mental health of the people.

It was refreshing to see pictures of large numbers of young men and women competing in the marathon. There was even a tricycle race for the disabled (on wheelchairs), a race for the visually impaired, and a special ‘fun race’ for the slightly faint hearted! Not all may have finished the 42 kms of the marathon, but for the first-timers, this may not have even been about finishing at all – for me it would have been about participating, and training my mind and my body for the strenous race. While Kenyans dominated the winnings, as always, I hope all others competing realized that true virtue of the sport lies equally in beating and exceeding one’s own personal best.

On this occasion, I think it is useful to highlight the related message from the President of Pakistan:

This event and the promotion of tourism have helped in creating a soft image of Pakistan. Through this international competition, the people of Pakistan have rejected the extremists, giving them a clear message that they are keen to organise and participate in such healthy sporting activities.

We belong to a moderate country. We are fond of culture, sports and tourism and this is the distinction of a peaceful country. Sports is vital for a healthy society.

This race, and other activities for the youth are a wonderful display of leadership by the organizers. It is a worthwhile endeavor and I hope buisnesses and the government will support them as much as possible. It must have been difficult for the marathon runners to run and breathe-in the polluted city environment, but one hopes that will also improve over time. If Beijing and Mexico City can start cleaning up their environment, so can Karachi and Lahore. Maybe the thousands of marathon runners will form a lobbying group to promote a cleaner environment – one other positive outcome of this race.

15 responses to “Lahore Marathon 2007”

  1. Prophecy says:

    Being a Lahori, i am feeling happy for noting after reading this article…:-) – when we go out early in morning, we still find people walking in parks, playing cricket/ football and a lot of people go out early morning for prayer…so molvi sahab ka kuch fayada to ha…and some credit goes to Governor Gillani for number of parks developed during his tenure.

    those interested in marathons/ long distance running, check out this site http://www.ultramarathonman.com/, this man ran 325 Miles in one go…imagine people like Dean running Lahore marathon and at finish line they are treated with Halwa Puri and Lassi breakfast…lahori style :-)

  2. Wasiq Ali says:

    The Marathon is a good thing, indeed. But talking of it as the “solution” to extermism is excessive. It is yet another case of putting symbolism before the substance.

  3. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Karachi, themed charity walks were all the rage. There were walks for leukemia, cancer, leprosy etc. As useful as those charity walks are in mobilizing wider population groups on sensitive issues, and to raise funds for the charities, I am more excited to see the organization of the marathon. This is actually an endurance sport and if sports such as this (or rock climbing) become popular, our youth may actually engage in healthy activities. Young men and women need to learn, for their own better health, to work out and indulge in strenous sports, and to include heavy cardio workouts in their schedule. Playing cricket or watching soccer on TV or even participating in a slow-moving 10km walk is hardly a workout.

    It bugs me that when I wake up early in Beijing of Shanghai, I see the public parks and other common areas filled with young/old men and women doing Tai-Chi or other forms of physical fitness training. In Pakistan, one only finds the milkmen or the newspaper delivery boys on the road – maybe an occasional street sweeper.

  4. Anwar says:

    It was heartwarming to see handicapped people participating in the event. It will be even better to provide sports and health facilities to public in general and young people in particular to constructively channel their energies.
    Pakistanis do not have a stomach for extremism which by the way was invented and marketed by our professional military. To box extremists we must first box militry. Alternatively, we can constitutinally hand over Pakistan to Fouji Foundation. This way at least every citizen will be entitled to a piece of the pie – and we may even have a marathon in S. Waziristan….

  5. Manzoor says:

    Then why it is attached with extremism. Idon’t know that a marathon can soften a mad man or the like. Even during the heydays of Nazism Olympic were held in Germany. Was that successful in curbing Nazism. I apperciate Marathon but to politicse it or use it to score point is something i can’t digest.

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