Lebanese Semi Marathon Championship

The Lebanese Athletics Federation has organized today morning the Lebanese Half-Marathon Championship that started at Jounieh Fouad Chehab Stadium and ended at the place. Almost 300 athletes were on the start line, ready to complete the 21km.

The Lebanese Army runners were dominating this race. Omar ISSA finished first with 1:12:47 ahead of Bilal AWADAH with 1:13:14 and Nicolas MARTA 3rd in 1:13:28.

Aregu ABATTE from Inter-Lebanon was the first woman to cross the finish line. She set 1:29:15. Sonia HANNA (Inter-Lebanon) came in second place with 1:31:31 and Nicole ELIAS (Elite) come in 3rd place with 1:34:21. The results were then divided into categories.

[Enjoy the photo album of the Lebanese Half Marathon here]

Ali AWAD, the ex-record man of the Marathon and Half Marathon, and who’s still the record holder of the 5000m and the 10 000m finished 17th overall at 41 years of age. He started with Champville Club before moving to the Lebanese Army. He is now training 4 to 5 days a week, but when he was in his twenties, he was doing 13 training sessions a week!

“I’m still training even if I have an injury because I love this sport. If I stop running my life stops too! I’m proud that there are people who are able to break my records, because it is essential for improving. These days everyone is improving, not only the Lebanese Army runners but also the civilians due to the efforts of the “new” Federation. Civilians should continue working hard to improve and compete against the Army runners.”

We all know that Ethiopians are pioneers in endurance, and they have living legends like Kenenisa BEKAgeruELE or Haile GEBRSELASSIE. Today we had the chance to see Aregu ABATTE running. She is an Ethiopian who loves sports but never took on training until one day, when she was telling her bosses that she loves sports, and they gave her total freedom to train. She is now preparing for the marathon with the Inter-Lebanon Club.

“I’m really thankful to my bosses, they let me run everyday! No body does this! I came here to work! They are amazing!”

There is someone among the runners who ran 11 out of 11 Beirut Marathons and who is now 63 years old. He’s Armenian, from Homenetmen Club, his name is Levon TASHJIAN, he was the Lebanese Champion in 10 000m back in 1974! He has traveled a lot to compete for the national team back in the seventies. He decided one day to travel from Anjar to Turkey on his feet. It took him 10 days and 750km to reach his destination with an 8kg bag.

“I participate in these championships because I love running, I don’t look for rankings, I just run.”

The half marathon is held before the Beirut Marathon, which brings more people to run the 21k in preparation for the 42k. The Federation organizes the half marathon but they don’t have their own marathon. We turned to Roland SAADE, the president of the Lebanese Athletics Federation, to give us an answer.

“Beirut marathon has raised the bar very high, if we want to organize our own marathon, it should be at the same level, not below. But in a year or two, yes we will have our own marathon.”

Now that the half marathon is done, the only race on the schedule is the marathon, on November 9, before the running season comes to an end.