The Marathon of Afghanistan takes place in Bamian province, a magical mountainous hidden valley suspended in the midst of the Hindu Kush in central Afghanistan. The astonishingly beautiful valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country and remains almost completely untouched by violence. The inaugural marathon took place in October 2015 and was the first international marathon to be run in Afghanistan. Around 120 runners took part in the marathon and associated 10-kilometer race, including Zainab who became the first Afghan woman in history to complete a marathon within her own country.
Zainab – first Afghan woman to run a marathon in her own country
For a worthy cause
The Marathon of Afghanistan has been set up as a non-profit organisation and the race is free for local Afghans to enter. All race entry fees collected from international runners are used to fund the cost of arranging the marathon. Any surplus funds will be distributed to local charitable causes.
A truly national event
The Cultures of Resistance Network have generously provided funding to enable runners from all major cities of Afghanistan to compete in the 2016 race, making it a truly national event. Without this assistance, many runners could not afford to travel to or take part in the race. We are very grateful for their support. You can learn more about the Cultures of Resistance Network and what they do on their website at www.culturesofresistance.org.
Getting Afghan girls and women into sport
We are working closely in the region with Free to Run, a non-profit organization that provides sports opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan and other areas affected by conflict. The Central Highlands Region where the marathon is taking place serves as the center of Free to Run’s programs, which include hiking clubs for female students at the high school and university level. Through running, fitness and outdoor adventure, Free to Run seeks to empower women and girls, changing lives and communities along the way. Zainab, who became the first Afghan woman to run a marathon in her country, completed the race with a Canadian and a Belgian woman from Free to Run as support. You can learn more about Free To Run and what they do on their website at www.freetorun.org.
Team members James Bingham, Gull Hussein and James Willcox have extensive experience of organising trips and expeditions to Afghanistan and other remote locations.