November 08, 2015

On 16K and the Beirut Marathon

Can't think of anything hipper than this; two monks running the 10K

I walked the 10 K today, together with what seemed like the rest of Lebanon. It annoys hubbie to no extent that thousands of people are willing to go out for a city walk among throngs of people, AND PAY for it, while nobody is willing to go out and demonstrate against the current mess we’re in.
I don’t mind. I’m a big fan of urban festivities. It is good to see happy people. There’s a contradiction in it all. Lebanese take the car to bring their kids to school, less than 2 kilometers away. They’ll pay valet parking rather than park the car 3 blocks away from a restaurant. They’ll complain aloud if the line-up to the cash register is more than 4 people. They’ll honk their horn if traffic is not fast enough for their taste. They’re absolutely intolerant to everything that inconveniences them.

But ask them to pay 40,000 to be seriously inconvenienced, and drag their sorry @$$ all over town in the heat, and they’ll do it with a smile, a great mood, balloons, music, dance and what not! It is related to the ‘walk appeal’ of the event (there’s an entire science that figures out how far people are willing to walk for something), but I am all in favor of stuff like this.
I’m not sure how these marathons are done in other countries, Lebanon being the only country where I joined the crowd, but here, entire companies, schools and institutions sign on their complete staff to join, it seems. Is it voluntary? I wonder. They print T-shirts for the event, have balloons printed, and their employees bring their kids along as well. Talking about corporate spirit!
Heck, I see lots of housekeepers joining these days as well. Now if that's not good news!

Don’t let this 10K fool you though, in reality it’s at least 14K, if not more. To get to the race, you have to park your car a god-awful distance away, and walk all the way through town. By the time you are crossing the start line, you’ve logged your first 2 kilometers already. And then when you make it to the finish line, your car is - of course - on the other side of town, and so you pull yourself (in my case) uphill again.
Aregu Sisay Abateh, our housekeeper, ran for the first time in 5 months after breaking her fibula last June.  No podium position for her either, but she’s working on getting back her form.
My daughter has reached the age where she will no longer accompany me, unless I organize a diversion. In her case, that means friends. She hikes great distances every summer, so there is no issue there. I wasn’t sure how her friends would do 10K. One was under the impression that we’d walk 5 kilometers.  There was some mild confusion in the beginning, when after what seemed like an eternity, or at least 7 kilometer, the ladies were rather taken back by a sign saying ‘3K.’
How’s that possible?” wondered my daughter.
Well, just another 2 to go,” replied her friend, still under the impression that this was going to be a 5 kilometer walk.
Can't get them tired
But whether you walk 5, 10 or 20 kilometers, for (pre)teenagers it is exactly the same; they do not get tired.  And as I hobbled – relieved as ever, and seriously contemplating of giving this event a pass next year – over the finish line, with hip pain and back pain, and a left arm that somehow did not like to hang straight alongside my body, they bounced right back, ready for the next thing.
All in all, a good day.

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