Hundreds of young Egyptians gathered this Friday morning in Heliopolis. It was not to protest in front of the Presidential Palace. It was not to throw molotov cocktails. It was not to express anger at government policies. Hundreds of Egyptians gathered this Friday morning in Heliopolis to collectively and proactively express the importance of physical fitness.
A new running movement seems to be gearing up in Egypt. It was started a few short weeks ago by a group who call themselves Cairo Runners. Their aim is to organize a half marathon sometime in April. And until then they are gathering people from all over the city to gradually increase the distances they can jog.
Today there were two routes; a shorter six kilometer route and a longer 11 kilometer route. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring experiences of my life to run alongside my fellow Egyptians on the streets of sunny Cairo. Instead of the typical harassment girls have come to expect, people were standing on the sides of the road cheering on the hundreds of young men and women who were chugging along. There were all kinds of people running today. They were mostly young people in their twenties. But I saw younger teenagers and older 50-year-olds as well. There were girls running in their hijab and girls without. There were guys with beards and guys without. There were extremely fit men (the kind with bulging muscles that you just want to squeeze) and there were young women who were nice and curvy. One young man was running with his two huge dogs on their chains. Some people jogged the whole distance. Others jogged until they got tired and then walked.
If jogging on the streets of Cairo has been one of your dreams – as it has been mine – your dream has now come true! I’ll be joining Cairo Runners next week. I hope you will too.
Follow Cairo Runners on Twitter @CairoRunners and on Facebook where they post details of where the next running event will happen approximately half way into each week.