On Friday’s marathon and 10-kilometer races held in Hargeisa, Somaliland, 200 athletes from around the world participated.
Not only was the run colorful and exotic to the international runners but, to them, it was also an event that beautifully merged the excitement of visiting new land, meeting new people with a spirit of being part of a charitable cause, along with their Somali runners.
Peace & Belonging
Many of the new visitors did not truly believe that there could be a place they and their families could freely and publicly participate in an event held at a place that the international media most often linked with disturbing incidents. To many, the stability, peace, friendliness they found in Somaliland took them by surprise., and especially at the heel of events that rocked the world happening in Mogadishu, Nairobi and Bossasso.
The first, a 42.195 kilometer marathon, kicked off at 6:30 in the morning. Above thirty runners participated. The second, the 10-kilometer run started at 8:30.
The route for the marathon headed 21 km east of Hargeisa along a paved road and returned the same route. The start/finish took place in Hargeisa stadium. The 10-kilometer race, planned along the same lines, headed 5 kilometers along the same paved road and back again.
According to the organizers’ ranking, Osman Elmi Sheikh, who traveled from Borama, Awdal region, to participate in the event easily won the the marathon (2hr 51min). Hamze Beder Ma’allin (34′ 10″), also, from Awdal, won the 10-kilometer race. Runners belonging to the Godir sports club of the Somaliland police forces, coincidentally, bagged 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions of both races, according to the club chairman.
Amin Essa came second on the marathon at 2hr 53′. Third place went to Mohamoud Ibrahim at 2hr 58 minutes, where 2nd and 3rd places of the 10km race were clinched, respectively, by Shuaib Abdi (35′ 20″) and Abdiqani Mohamoud (35′ 22″).
Women’s section of the marathon was won by Ragnhild Audestad of Norway who clocked 4:37:21.
“Winning the marathon ahead of Somali and international runners will be etched forever embossed in golden letters on a new page of my athletic ambitions,” Osman, the marathon winner, said.
The jubilant winner said he was especially thrilled that he won over more able, better trained athletes some of whom came from neighboring Djibouti.
Hanna Mukhtar (51 minutes) finished the line first of the female participants in the 10km race.
Second and third places of the women’s 10-km run went to Hafsa Hassan Farah (54 mins) and Ayan Abdullahi at 55 minutes.
“Looking forward to take part in the race was not lost. I won. I intend to continue winning in other races, other times,” Hanna said.
Dahabshiil Group was the main sponsor of the event, so the event was named in its honor: Dahabshiil-Somaliland Marathon 2019. Other sponsors, such as SagalJet, Dasani, Edna Adan, Darlington Foundation, Untamed Borders, all contributed – at a lesser scale – to the success of the event in one form or the other: pre-event publicity, certificates, beverages, health, and the like.
Abdirashid Duale, Dahabshiil Group CEO, was there at the stadium in person. Later, he expressed his delight in seeing so many so enthusiastically proving their mettle in a test of strength and stamina in the races.
“Not only do the races contribute to the physical fitness of runners, but they also bring together runners from the host country and from further afield in the world. Some of the runners have come from as far as Ireland,” he said.
“Somali runners at today’s events,” he said ” have an honorable tradition to emulate in the international successes previously clocked by the likes of Sir Mo Farah and Abdi Bile Abdi. I am sure we have the potential to produce hundreds more like them”.
Dahabshiil Group, comprising Dahabshiil Pvt Ltd – the international money transfer wing of the the Group, Dahabshil Bank International with both local and international branches, and Somtel Telecommunication International, never fails to loom large ahead at social responsibility schemes which span across all sectors positively impacting on the lives of tens of thousands of people. Of late, the Group has focused on making financial services available to the ‘unbanked’ and more vulnerable groups of the society, according special attention to youth and women.
The Vice president of Somaliland, Abdirahman Abdullahi Ismail ‘Sei’li’, Minister of Interior and Internal Security, Mohamed Kahin, and the Minister for Youth and Sports, Boos Mire Mohamed, officially ran the first few words to declare the even open and handed out the medals to the winners at the end.