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Frances GuyAmbassador to the Republic of Lebanon, Beirut
The Beirut Marathon Association asked for six words to describe the marathon experience. These six were the motto for this year's marathon, held on Sunday 7 November. Maybe it is more poignant than it first looks.
The Prime Minister told me in London that he wasn't sure that he could participate in the marathon this year. ( He had led off the 10K fun run in 2009 just after his government was formed). He thought he couldn't but he turned up to head up a 3k run for MPs and others. It was an encouraging image and did him proud. Political rivalries melted as opponents offered each other water.
In the more serious part of the race the Lebanese marathon record for men was broken. Awadah Hussein probably thought at times in the warm sun yesterday morning that he couldn't do it.. but he did by only a few seconds and won an extra $25,000 for doing so. Edward Maalouf won the wheel cycle race by a hair's breadth, despite injury. I bet at that last minute he wasn't sure either whether he could but he did. And Sonia Hanna took the Lebanese women's title in only her second marathon. What a credit to determination and an inspiration to other Lebanese women.
Hey you out there! This is not a closed field to the privileged few. With guts and determination anyone can make it.
Me? I couldn't run the 42km this year, but was pleased to participate in the Ambassadors relay team, and help encourage donations to the official Beirut Marathon charities. And because I don't know if I'll do it again, I rushed and joined the rest of the Embassy team to run the 10k fun run too. And it was fun! What a crowd! What a credit to Lebanese spirit. Of course it was a bit chaotic and sure there are bits of the organisation that could be improved. But 30,000 people of all shapes and sizes and political hues had a great time and for once your name or confession didn't matter. All that mattered was that you had taken part. Really we have to do this more often…
Someone asked me if MPs compete in the London Marathon. Well yes actually and they raise lots of money for charity, and they don't get special media coverage and they just get on with it. We will know that Lebanon is stable when that is true in Beirut too.