Beirut International Marathon
I first learned about the Beirut International Marathon in 2006 when race organizers were tasked with the decision of whether or not to cancel the marathon, as a result of, the 2006 Israel–Lebanon 34 days War. Just one week before the event Pierre Amine Gemayel, a prominent anti-Syrian member of Parliament, was assassinated in Beirut. The Beirut Marathon Association chose not to cancel the marathon, but rather to hold it as a testament to Lebanese resilience. The fourth edition of the Blom Bank Marathon “For Love of Lebanon” went ahead as planned on November 26, 2006.
In November 2018, I arrived in Beirut to run the Beirut 8k. The race starts at the Beirut waterfront and ends at Martyrs’ Square. Finishing in the top three in my age group, based on previous years’ results, seemed attainable. I finished 2/7 in the women’s 60-64 age group.
According to the Beirut Marathon Association a total of 48,605 participants registered in the 16th edition of the Blom Bank Beirut Marathon 2018. 3,815 international runners took part in the races, representing 109 different nationalities.
After the 8k race, I walked over to El Arz and George Haddad streets to watch the last 1 km of the marathon before the uphill finish to Martyrs Statue. 5 ½ hours into the 26.2 mile race Lebanese Red Cross volunteers were encouraging the spent runners to keep going. Donate to the Lebanese Red Cross.
Points of Interest
The Phoenicia Hotel is a luxurious five-star hotel and a bargain at 30,000 IHG Rewards points per night. It is a short walk to the Beirut Marathon starting line at the Beirut waterfront.
Since my Aegean Airlines flights from Athens arrived and departed Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport at 1:50 AM and 4:15 AM in the morning respectively I booked an airport transfer with Beirut Airport Transfer. The airport to hotel transfer is 25 USD and the hotel to airport transfer is 20 USD.
The 4-hour Alternative Tour Beirut is a captivating walk through Beirut’s neighborhoods (Achrafiyeh, Gemmayzeh, Christian East & Muslim West). It provides historical and political context for complex subjects including the Lebanese Civil War (1970-1990), the 2006 Israel–Lebanon 34 days War, Solidere and its special powers of eminent domain, gentrification, the garbage crisis, Beirut digital district (BAD), technology & innovation, political art & graffiti and more.
Papercup Bookstore and Coffee Shop
Beirut is a very walkable city. On the way back from picking up my race number at the Beirut Marathon Village, Train Station, Mar Mikhael, I stopped at the Papercup Bookstore and Coffee shop. I ordered a French press coffee and bought The Adventure Handbook, a collection of photo essays featuring photographers such as David Alan Harvey.
The Lebanese Bakery
The Lebanese Bakery is a neighborhood bakery that serves Lebanese coffee and sweet buns, as well as, Manousheh (flatbread) and Mouajjanet (bite-sized bakes).
A Beirut-based artisan-publisher of artists’ books, prints & posters. Plan Bey has a large collection of postcards by Lebanese photographer Fouad Elkoury. Postage stamps of Lebanese singer Fairuz can be purchased at the Liban Post.
Now that I’ve got the “lay of the land” I’ll return to Beirut and run either the Beirut Half Marathon or the SARADAR Bank Women’s 10k.
Susan M Hall is an American long-distance runner with a goal to run a half marathon in all 193 UN-recognized countries plus the two permanent non-member observer states of Palestine & the Holy See.
On her radar are the Outer Banks Half Marathon, Nags Head, North Carolina, USA; Beirut Half Marathon, Beirut, Lebanon; Radisson Blu Larnaka Half Marathon, Larnaka, Cyprus, and the Pyramids Half Marathon, Giza, Egypt.
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