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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Riyadh: Runners from around the world are making their final preparations for taking part in the third Riyadh Marathon.
Hosted by the Saudi Sports for All Federation, the event will be held in the city on Feb. 10.
And for fitness coach Jerry Diaz Valenzuela it will be his first full marathon this year.
The 42-year-old from the Philippines will be dedicating the 42-km run to his mother, who suffered a stroke six years ago and will be celebrating her 80th birthday three days before the race.
Valenzuela, who has run two half-marathons, noted that remembering his mom’s suffering spurred him on in the later stages of a run.
He said: “When I do a long run and I struggle, I’m feeling that this is a simple struggle for me. This struggle is a short time only. If you’re thinking about other people who struggle for a whole day or a whole year, it’s very different.”
He trained every day during December and is currently working out twice a day in preparation for the event.
“I feel very confident with myself. I’m healthy, and that’s where my motivation is coming from,” Valenzuela added.
Mahfoud Irfene started running in 1989 at the age of 34 to quit smoking. At first, he could barely manage 500 meters without becoming exhausted, but over time he built up his endurance until he was able to run 21-km half-marathons.
He said: “I was an addict for running. Almost every day I ran 7 km. You have a lot of adrenaline and endorphins; you feel very well after running. Especially to manage your stress, it’s one of the best sports ever.”
The 68-year-old will be competing in the 10-km race in the Riyadh Marathon. Just weeks before the race he strained calf muscle.
Originally from France, Irfene has been living in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. He took part in last year’s Riyadh Marathon, which he described as having a very good atmosphere and being well-organized.
Hitesh Paathak, a 55-year-old Indian sales and marketing manager, took part in the 4-km race in the 2023 Riyadh Marathon and discovered a newfound love of exercise. This year, he is preparing for the 10-km event.
He said: “I wasn’t giving so much time to my body, but there was the Riyadh Marathon in 2023, and I participated in the 4-km run for fun. I was so excited.
“I realized that I could do it. So, I started seriously, I joined some teams immediately and I started doing some workouts, at least four to five days per week.
“It’s so exciting. Lots of people are there and everybody motivates you,” he added.
The event, supported by the Ministry of Sport, Quality of Life Program, and the Saudi Arabian Athletic Federation, is a certified World Athletics Label Road Race — Elite.
In addition to the full marathon, this year’s event will feature a half-marathon, 10-km, and 4-km races specifically designed for children, families, and beginners.
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