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Cedar Green Marathon - An Amazing Race
|Date: Sun, 27/03/2011|
Melissa Rizk and Shahi Bikas winners of the Cedar Green Marathon - a breathtaking race in support of the environment and in memory of François Genadry
Logo by runner Jihad Kibbi
The Cedar Green Marathon 42.195 kilometer race on Sunday, 27 March 2011 was not only a rigorous test of runners’ endurance, but also planned by Inter-Lebanon Road Running & Athletics Club as a wakeup call about the dangers to our environment.
140 marathon runners from UNIFIL, ISF, and various Lebanese athletic clubs, mainly Inter-Lebanon and Veterans Club registered for this Beirut-Byblos race. The weather was beautiful and over eighty runners accompanied by cyclists crossed the finish line where they were welcomed by Eddé Yard and the Municipality of Jbeil.
|The performance of Melissa Rizk (Inter-Lebanon) who ran her first marathon was remarkable, especially since Melissa was not only 8 minutes ahead of her nearest rival but she also recorded the best Lebanese women’s time ever in a marathon in Lebanon (3h 15m 39s). Elga Trad (Veterans Club) was second with a time of 3h 23m 56s and 1st in her age group. Frances Guy, the British Ambassador to Lebanon, finished in 3rd place and first in her age group with a good time of 3h 27m 58s.|
On the men’s side the absence of Lebanese Army runners was notable, especially since the race was a memorial to the late retired Brigadier General François Genadry, an army officer who made his mark both on the army and the running world. This opened the podium to other runners. From the 35th kilometer the Nepalese UNIFIL runner Shahi Bikas stole a victory over Daoud Mustapha (Veterans Club) who arrived 2 minutes after Shahi. The men’s podium was completed by Indonesian UNIFIL runner Yusriadin in 3rd place.
An award ceremony honored the first three overall winners of each gender as well as the winners in 8 categories of each gender. The ceremony was held in Eddé Yard in the presence of the representative of his Excellency the President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman, the Environment Minister Mohammad Rahhal; the President of the Municipality of Jbeil Mr. Ziad Hawat; the Chairperson of the Byblos Festival Committee Ms. Latife Lakkis; and Mr. and Mrs. Roger and Alice Eddé, who hosted the ceremony.
This 0 Edition of the Cedar Green Marathon will be followed in subsequent years by more ambitious international editions. The competitive nature and green theme will be refined for the pleasure of real road runners, Lebanese and other nationalities.
Still far away from the Greenness we are aiming for…but nevertheless, a very rewarding race
How people interact with major sport events happening on their front doorstep or in their neighborhood is extremely revealing. The Lebanese have not yet reached the point of positively and enthusiastically embracing sports events such as a marathon. The bitter sweet pain of an epic 42.195K looks even sweeter with a cheering crowd of enthusiastic and friendly faces. The people of Jounieh, Bouar, Okaibe, and Hallat still need a generation or two before they look like a Boston Marathon crowd. A few individuals stepped in and helped, but the majority of locals seemed unconcerned and uninterested in runners of all ages and nationalities struggling over the surrounding rolling hills.
We need to focus on informing more people and creating greater awareness of sports and environment. It’s a long process, but we are long distance runners, aren’t we?
Inter-Lebanon will nurture the Cedar Green Marathon (CGM) year after year, and this event will become the flagship event of the club from 2012. In fact, CGM edition 1 is already scheduled for March 25th, 2012. Long term planning with a well thought ad campaign will aim to position our marathon as a serious must do regional Green Marathon in 2012.
So what happened on March 27th 2011 on the road from Beirut to Byblos? The atmosphere was positive and lively. Marathoners escorted by amazingly helpful bikers linked both ancient cities with their legs, sweat, and heart beats. Some marathoners lost their marathon virginity, since it was their first ever; to name but a few of these: Melissa Rizk, Joyce Nassar, Lenka Tamim, Aseel Basma. Melissa amazed all observers (but not me) with a 3.15 performance on her very first marathon - the fastest time ever of a Lebanese woman runner in Lebanon. Many others ran their PBs, such as Alma Khadra, Dania Nasser, Walid el-Kabbani, and few others I am sure. Runners all had a smile on their faces and this alone spells victory.
The ISF with limited manpower and a wide range of responsibilities did their best regarding road closures, and we are grateful for that. However, next year our focus will be on towns and municipalities, months before CGM race day.