InterFaith Marathon Takes Place In Luxembourg
It is 7pm on a scorching Saturday evening – rather than being at a BBQ or playing football in the park, I am about to embark on around three hours of torture. Surviving a half-marathon of 13.1 miles across Luxembourg, the country sandwiched between France and Belgium, was my mission.
Three months of training, building my stamina and adopting a chocolate-free healthy diet – okay I made the last one up – all built up to this moment. With it being my first half marathon and my lack of outdoor runs in training meant the odds were stacked against me.
So I began with a slow-paced jog for the first half of the night race with the aim of completing the course rather than trying to set a fast time. I decided to take in the sights and sounds rather than play music in my headphones to motivate me like Eminem’s Lose Yourself or The Game’s Ali Bomiye.
The course passed through parks, over bridges, past iconic buildings like the Sports Centre and the cathedral. Along the way, kids would give you high fives with their giant foam hands and cheer you on. Every cheer of encouragement gave you a small boost as you try to squeeze every ounce of energy and block out thoughts questioning why you are putting yourself through this.
The second half of the half marathon was agony.
But after some power walking and vital energy boosts of orange slices, bananas and isotonic drinks I completed the race in under two hours and 40 minutes.
An indoor arena is the location for the finale with big screens and screaming fans – just what you need for one final sprint. It is the closest I will probably get to knowing what athletes like Mo Farah feel when they cross the finish line.
Sikhs in the City
I ran for a team called Sikhs in the City, a multi-faith running club with a difference. The London-based team have runners who are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Jain among others.
In an age where religions are viewed as negative forces by some, the team shows that people of different faiths can get along and work together. All the team members are united by their passion for donning their running shoes and doing long distance runs around the world.
One runner in his sixties, Baldev Singh, finished the half marathon in a staggering two hours and 19 minutes.
Harmander Singh, who founded the team, completed the full marathon of 26.2 miles in five hours and 17 minutes – the 85th marathon he has finished in his career.
The race weekend – which consisted of a full marathon, half marathon and team relay – had the theme of showing the world that religion can be positive. Runners of different faiths worked together in the team run to complete the route including Muslim imams, representatives of the Bai’ia community and a Buddhist who travelled from Japan.
It was organised by the charity InterFaith, which has the Dalai Lama as its patron. With plans already underway for next year’s race weekend, it is an event where running a marathon represents just the least of its ambitions.