With the landmark Great Pyramids of Giza in the background, nearly 4,000 runners from dozens of countries competed on Saturday at the fourth edition of the Pyramids Half Marathon in the southwest of Cairo, capital of Egypt.
Just like the event’s slogan “Race Through History,” participants enjoyed the opportunity to run through the historical wonders that were built more than 4,000 years ago.
“It’s really beautiful. It’s nice when you’re exhausted and you look up and see the pyramids, and you’re like: ‘Ok, Let’s go!'” Lauren Oconnell, 30, a runner from Scotland, told Xinhua after she crossed the finish line.
“I did it! It was fun and there were so many people there in the race. It was really nice,” she added, noting how amazing sports bring people of different nationalities and cultures together.
Siemon Hollema, a racer from the Netherlands in his early 50s, said it was his first time to participate after cheering for his daughter for several years in the race.
“It is fantastic! You can’t have a marathon in a better place than the pyramids. It’s quite special,” said the Dutch runner.
Comprised of the 5-km race, the 10-km race and the 21-km half marathon, the event’s six gold medals for champions in men’s and women’s group for each distance were mostly snatched by Egyptian runners.
American runner Abigail Cember, the first female finisher of the 21-km half marathon, was the only non-Egyptian gold medalist in the event.
Egyptian athlete Salem Mohamed Salem, who won the half marathon’s gold medal for male racers, said the competition was “strong” because of the tough race course including several rolling hills and inclinations.
“It wasn’t an easy challenge, but I am happy I could make it and win the first place,” he told Xinhua after being awarded the gold medal.
“I hope this event will continue to be held every year to let people from different counties come and see the pyramids of our country and our civilization,” added Salem, 29.
The competitors also included runners from Britain, France, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Germany, Ireland and China.
Chinese runner Yin Qiankun, 33, said it was his first time to participate in a marathon, describing it as “a challenge.”
“The race venue is beautiful, for the pyramids is a must-see place for a lot of foreign tourists. The event also brought together runners from different countries and could help build friendships among people from different cultures,” the Chinese runner told Xinhua.
The event is organized by TriFactory, an Egyptian leading sports event management company, with the support of the Egyptian ministries of sports and tourism under the auspices of the Egyptian presidency.
Ayman Hakky, founder and CEO of TriFactory, said his goal is to gradually increase the number of runners in the event to more than 10,000 in the coming years.
“We have 4,000 racers from 79 countries running close to one another in an atmosphere of peace and friendship, which is a strong message that Egypt is a safe place that is open for all nationalities in the world,” the marathon’s chief organizer told Xinhua. ■