Dear Lebanon, Dear world, It is believed that sport holds the power to change a person, a nation and the world – on Nov. 27, 2011, you the participants of the BLOM Beirut Marathon proved this belief to be valid and true.
It is with the greatest pride and happiness that I write this letter to you all dear marathoners, and participants and share the inspiring account of this great event.
The BLOM Beirut Marathon 2011 marks a day of excellence and achievement on so many levels. As a start, a new record was set for Lebanon at 2 hours and 11 minutes, breaking all previous records!
Numbers speak the loudest, and it is with sheer delight I can tell you that this year we had an overwhelming 31,000 runners! Yes, the highest ever! Participants of the BLOM Beirut Marathon 2011 came from all corners our great nation and of the world, again, setting a new record number of international runners who will now be ambassadors to Lebanon and share the beauty and glory of our country with their communities back home.
Apart from the core BMA team, over 7,000 people were involved directly and indirectly in pulling off this enormous event – be it the mass number of security or our fabulous volunteers.
The race received full coverage by local and international media allowing the event to touch the heart of millions.
An astonishing amount of people showed up on the streets, on rooftops and on balconies of buildings just to support the runners, it was so beautiful to watch these encouragements!
Nine municipalities opened their hearts and their regions to runners who worked so diligently to provide safe and clean roads, interactive road markings and made the effort to create such a welcoming atmosphere.
The BLOM Beirut Marathon 2011 also hosted the highest ever number of NGOs that did a delightful job of integrating sport and positive change. This year, the culture of running for a cause was implemented as the marathon served as a platform for fundraising and awareness – and it is my greatest vision and hope to see this culture growing and spreading with each coming year.
Since the event, I have only heard positive and motivating feedback regarding the logistics of the race and this rewards the continuous efforts of the dedicated BMA team. This year many felt that they were running a Gold Label Marathon which provided a sense of logistical security comparable to running in the marathons of Europe or the U.S.
This year, for the first time we held a stimulating symposium which gathered local and internal sports heroes such as Edwin Moses, Tegla, Simon Khoury, Fadi al-Khatib, Maxime Chaya, and Edward Maalouf. The symposium created an intellectual and inspirational forum where athletes interacted with their role models, and the power of sport and how it can influence the lives of people positively was felt all around.
It is true that we closed roads – and for this we send out a grand thank you from the 31,000 runners to the Lebanese who bore this inconvenience – but it is equally true that Beirut for these couple of hours was a bride, dressed with the rainbow colors of all people, of all religions, of all economic classes, of all walks of life.
The BLOM Beirut Marathon 2011 used the power of sport to cross all political, social and economic lines and bring Lebanon together – united on the streets, under the warm sun in the positive, healthy and empowering spirit of running!
Yes – Nov. 27, 2011 was a momentous day for Lebanon and for everyone who took part, and none of this would have been possible without you who have put your trust in and invested in the Beirut Marathon. Thank you to all of our supporters and sponsors.
Thank you to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Thank you again to the dynamic efforts of the municipalities, the NGOs, and to the BMA team who have endured a nonstop eight months of intense preparations to ensure that this day will be remembered triumphantly.
And yes, Nov. 27 – the day of the BLOM Beirut Marathon 2011 – will certainly be remembered triumphantly, with joy and with pride.
It is my biggest desire, world, that the BMA continues to change lives through sports – and my humblest gratitude, Lebanon, that you have given me the honor and the privilege to realize my dreams and make this race happen.
May El Khalil is the president of the Beirut Marathon Association.