On Friday, as international and local media focused on demonstrations in Egypt, more than 7,000 runners wearing bright yellow t-shirts took over the streets of Cairo’s Maadi district in one of Cairo Runners‘ most successful events to date.
The event, which was saw the participation of numerous athletic communities, included Egyptians and expatriates alike running under blue and sunny skies. However, it was not just for the die-hard athletes. Among the troves of runners were parents with their children, first-time runners, and others hoping to get some exercise in a truly festive environment.
The event kicked off with the beat of music and crowds cheering as they started running. While many in Cairo were still asleep, outside thousands were running for greater awareness of the health benefits associated with exercise and of Egypt’s beauty.
On social meida, participants praised the event, calling it one of Cairo Runners’ best events.
“I cannot wait to see a full marathon,” commented one user, Rasha Mosaad, on Cairo Runners’ Facebook page.
“Yesterday was my first half marathon. You can’t imagine how much I’m happy, my dreams have come true. Really thanks Cairo Runners. It was very well organised. It was more than a festival,” said another user Khaled Atwa, referring to the festive environment among the runners.
The event marked Cairo Runners’ fourth half marathon and witnessed a live performance by the Egyptian band Cairokee and other forms of entertainment. While the event did cost money, half of the event’s proceeds were allocated to the development of poor villages across Egypt.
Launched in 2012 with the aim of “discovering and promoting tourism through running Egypt’s iconic destinations,” Cairo Runners has grown from drawing a mere 70 participants in its first-ever run to a projected 7,000 for this year’s half-marathon.
“We’ve come a long way, from around 70 runners showing up in our first run, all the way up to 6,000 at our last half marathon,” said co-founders Ibrahim Safwat and Aya Safwat in statements to Egyptian Streets before the half-marathon. “Our target is to organize a full-fledged marathon in Egypt.”
With a successful half-marathon, and people clamoring for more events, Cairo Runners’ target of organizing a marathon might be met sooner rather than later.