IAAF President Sebastian Coe will be on site at the 14th annual Beirut Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on 13 November as a guest of the event organisers.
He praised, in particular, the initiative of May El Khalil, who plotted the first Beirut Marathon in 2003 after a horrific accident left her unable to continue running.
“I am excited because it is a marathon that goes way, way beyond just the competition either participation or elite,” he said. “Its very creation was borne of a pretty challenging time for May (El Khalil). It was while she was in a hospital bed that she came up with the idea.
“And with athletes from 85 different countries competing with a very, very important message – that sport is one of the great drivers of peace and reconciliation – this is clearly an event I would like to see, and, clearly an event that is built simply more than competitive sport.
“There is something in there for everyone,” he added. “You have got grandparents racing; you have 1km races, right up to the full distance and the opportunity for young people to understand the fun participating in races like that. This hits a lot of very important things for us.”
This won’t be Coe’s first visit to Lebanon; several years ago he made a political trip to the country. This time, however, it will be a trip which demonstrates his passion for the sport. He will undertake a busy schedule over the Beirut Marathon race weekend. But this is nothing he isn’t used to.
“I have been with the Lebanon federation here in Qatar for the past couple of days discussing the (IAAF) reform program,” said Coe. “We know how excited we both are that I will be there. It’s a commitment I gave a couple of years ago. I am delighted that the diary has allowed us to do this.”
This current global trip has focused on IAAF reform which he summarises clearly.
“It’s simple,” he says. “It’s returning trust to the sport and to the organisation and primarily giving permission for the clean athletes to feel we are doing everything we possibly can to create a level playing field for their competitions.”
Paul Gains (organisers) for the IAAF