Beirut Marathon - running report by Fritz Rietkötter
For English - Version of Beirut Marathon (EN) many thanks to Yana Balaniuk and Theresa Niebur-Ossenbeck for translation!
The Beirut marathon, at first sight that doesn’t seem to be the perfect place to organize a marathon but far from it. We took part with four runners at the competitions marathon (Souraya, Maria and me) and 8 km (Peter) and got to know a city that can’t be more oppositional. The rich and the poor as well as modern and ruined. A pulsating metropole in which political and religious currents mix, and whose people are pleasant but reluctant, too.
Exactly at 3h am in the German timezone the alarm clock rang. Breakfast at 4:30h am, 5:15h am meeting with our fangroup (Sourayas’ family), 5:45h check-in at the take-off area and at 6:30h am start.
Everything went according our plan. Being in a good mood, Sourayas’ family welcomed us. After taking a photo of the group with the Lebanese and German flag we went to the take-off area. More than 48.000 runners for the marathon, the half-marathon and 8 km gathered from more than 100 nations to run in the city of contrasts. This was my 125th start at a marathon and at none of them were so much people in such a good mood like in Beirut. Simply, one could feel the people’s wish to run in their town and to show the other nations how beautiful and unique Beirut is.
Shortly before 6 o clock it started to get bright. We were in the take-off area with a view to the Beirut’ mountains behind whose the sun started to rise and on whose hillsides the lights of the 3,5 million metropole were still shining. That was impressive by now. In addition with the Mediterranean Sea and its little breeze, it was the time for the marathon, now.
a special day is starting
first info in the airport
Marathon morning 5.30h (BeirutTime) / 4.30h(GermanTime)
Sunset and start area
our Pacemaker (4:45h / 4:15h)
Honour of the pacemaker
Another special point was, that the pacemakers of all target times were introduced on the big tribune in the take-off area. Honour to whom honour is due. Appropriate to our own anticipated target time we ran block by block across the scratch. Souraya ranged at a time of 4:15 h, Maria and me at 4:45 h.
The first kilometers were intended to find our rhythm of running. We ran along the seafront, past by modern high-rises, streets full of palm, and past by lots of good-humoured people and eventpoints. On the left hand side there were the districts Downtown and Harma, on the right hand side there was the Mediterranean Sea. Above us a military helicopter. On every corner military and police was stationed. That’s Beirut, too. We felt safe but this set the problems of this region into the background.
chearing in Beirut 6.40h
right Mediterranien Sea - left downtown
next event point
German + Soumi speaking in the Libanon in Englisch
far on with palm tries and the Mediterranien Sea
our fans: Nano, Hussein, Peter
Sweden ran in front of us, behind them the Finns with whom we directly striked up a conversation because Maria is working for a Finnish company. Any further we passed some French runners. Moreover the Japanese, the Moroccans and Chinese, the word was a guest of Beirut, seeing an interesting as well as an awesome town.
Somewhere at the 7.th km our fans cheered for us. Peter was one of them because his start was just at 8 o’clock. Being greeted with the German flag at the Beirut marathon is a really nice feeling. We went on our route with a good temper.
Now we have been on the direction of the harbor to the second turning point in district Jak El Dib. There were these endless seeming distances with its constantly rise for several kilometers and that cost a lot of power. Maria was all right and more occupied with watching than running but later on this should have changed.
...the tall streets
another Highway is closed
up to the next mark
Afterwards we ran across a road overpass. On the left there was the Mediterranean Sea again and on the right the skyscrapers of Beirut. Only one lane was free for the traffic but it was caught up in a traffic jam. There wasn’t any problem one was waiting just until it was going on. In Germany this is unthinkable. From far away we heard music of the next station for supply. They played “We are the champions”. The beat was swapping across the distance, repulsed by the fronts, that was an overwhelming feeling.
in the middle of Beirut
Suddenly we have been on one of the streets, that was showing the contrast of Beirut. The poor Beirut showed broken streets, houses and power supply lines as well as waste and poverty. This is Beirut, too. We faced our next target which was the second turning point after a rising route of 3 km. On the opposite side there was a little decline, but that was no comfort. A short high five with a smiling Souraya who was coming half way of us and then we continued.
WLT in the world
this boy band was very good!, cool music
fun, even the younger ones
the next quarter
next high way closed
mmmmmh - hunger
At the turning point Beirut showed us his whole facets in a few seconds. The broken streets, the old houses and halls before the turning point and then the modern Beirut showing new houses, skyscrapers and the skyline with its beautiful architecture. What an insane difference.
We had to correct our speed and our pulse due to the fact that we have been good in time. Running a good time was secondary so we just wanted to experience a marathon in an outstanding town. So we faced our rhythm and moved on.
After some music of a boy-band at a gas station, but then it happened what was supposed to happen. Suddenly it was getting warm on the straight 4 km distance. We got an impression how hot Beirut can be. No shadow, no wind and we just had to run straight in the scorching heat. Fortunately we had some extra water with us for drinking and cooling down a little.
it becames warmer
the christian part of Beirut
best supporters a life
even this is Beirut too
So we´re back to the last few kilometers. Finally, we passed the Christian Quarter Furn el Chebbak, where we noticed the great statues of Marie and Jesus. There were very nice people and helpers everywhere. They cheered for us, they had fun and good mood. Maria kept her rhythm, and I took a bit of time for a little dance with helpers. The music was so nice, and the helpers were in such a good mood. So we just had to dance together.
Somewhere at 32nd km, we met our group of fans again. They had a good temper and smiled at us again. And then came the last 10 km. There was the wide endless straight road, which is lined with skyscrapers and stretched by endless cables. Past the viewer and helpers, we´re approaching the finish line.
We crossed a four-lane highway, and traffic was stopped for us. Awesome! It´s unimaginable to see in Germany something like that. The police and the military just closed the street. We got a hold of our self and moved on.
the last 2 km
and lot of fun
different nations together
There were the 40th km, then followed the 41st km. Upon the final straight. Awesome! There was a mosque on the right side next to the Christian church and final straight with applauding spectators. And on the left side, there was our fan group with the German flags in their hands.
Maria and I grabbed our flags and made our last few meters. These last few meters were highly emotional. We Europeans usually know this city as a dangerous city from the news. And today it was imagined the world as a place, we're proud and happy people live. “Fill the heart of Beirut” was the slogan if the marathon. Here, at 42,195 km implemented thousands of runners and helpers the slogan expressively. A few steps up to finish line waving the flag. Our watch stopped after 4,43h hours. Maria became the 4th place CatRank and I finished as the 38th CatRank. Souraya came as 7th CatRank in 4:18h to the finish line.
km41 the last 1.000metre
our fans - thank you!
the finish line
What a great experience. What an awesome town. It´s a big experience to see Beirut. Running was perfectly organized and highly professional carried out. It was worth for a journey. Safety came first and nobody had discomposed feelings. We saw the military, Red Cross and lots of helpers everywhere. I also thanked one or another soldier for doing their work. And I know, that their smile had an effect on comprehension.
2 symbols for peace (in the back and in the front)
Wildeshausen in the world
we try to dance with...
... bit this two girls are better :- )
the practicans of the everybody-race
The following days in and around Beirut made our with the Souraya family stay unforgettable. We got to know a country and its people. They have another faith and the different worldview. But they showed us that we all can sit around the table and have a good time. Wherever we have been, whether in the countryside or in the city. Lebanon has much to offer and it´s really great...
Beirut Place de l´ Etoile, like Paris...
two religion next to each other
monument for all marathon - pacerunner of the world
the best handbikers, training in our hotel
Baalbek, once of the oldest towns. firstly mentioned 8.000 bc
trading in Beirut
sweet an mmmmmh :- )
beach in Beirut
chrusader cities Tyros and Sidon. Sightseeing makes hungery :- )
electricity in Beirut
the best falafel ever
landmark of Beirut Raouche
sundown in Beirut
Sightseeing in Beirut
Sightseeing at the last evening with special pictures and great emontions
Quelle Slideshow: Beirut Marathon with thanks to Ines Salloum | Quelle Slideshow + Bilder with Maria+Fritz: jetlineactionphoto.com