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Marathon movers Amman International Marathon

03 October 2023, 11am

Lina El-Kurd, Run Jordan

Running seen as nation building

0 33 lina el kurd interview

The Amman Marathon was inaugurated in 2009 by King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It was a race that had support at the highest level and was of international significance from the start. This was at a time when there were relatively few international road races in the region.

Lina El Kurd joined the Amman Marathon company in the year after it was founded as the Marketing and Media Manager. She had a background in business development, marketing and public relations with specific experience in the banking and hospitality sectors and in event management..

She quickly assumed increasing responsibility within the company, serving as the Deputy General Manager of the Amman Marathon in 2011 and later becoming the General Manager.

In 2013 the Amman Marathon company merged with the Neurological Association which had been the organiser of the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon and the Red Sea Half Marathon. The result was the establishment of the Run Jordan Association for which Lina El Kurd took on the position of Deputy General Manager.

Run Jordan is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of long distance competitive and leisure running throughout Jordanian society. A primary focus of Run Jordan is on the marathon as it constitutes an important part of the modern Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Other priorities include the organisation of competitive races at other distances: from 5km and 10km runs to half-marathon and ultra-marathon events; and the promotion of leisure running in general. Run Jordan was established to restructure and broaden the scope of the Amman International Marathon to include running events and programmes in all parts of the country.

In co-operation with the Ministry of Education Run Jordan launched the Junior Running Programme in 2013, which gained widespread success. In 2015 Lina El Kurd started to organise races in governorates outside the capital such as Irbid, the second-city of Jordan and in Al Karak.

Lina El Kurd was appointed General Manager of the Run Jordan Association in 2015 in recognition of her great experience in all aspects of organising running events. Under her leadership the Association achieved success in its first year through the organisation of the Amman Marathon, the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon, and the Red Sea Half Marathon, all executed with a high level of professionalism.

Run Jordan collaborated with World Athletics and AIMS to provide the necessary training for the organising team with respect to route measurement, race organisation, and timing and results. A chip timing system was acquired in 2017 – the first timing system in Jordan to be owned by the organisers instead of rented from abroad.

The organisation liaises closely with the authorities through joint committees with representation from the police, the army, the Governor, the Mayor and the municipalities. Volunteers are vital to the operation. Running is promoted through partnership with the Ministry of Education and the universities. Students can count their participation as part of their community service working hours.

The work schedule is based on check lists and action plans. There is a race manual relating to each area of responsibility: race route logistics, timing system, volunteers, the celebration area. Run Jordan’s organisational structure specifies job descriptions for each role taken, whether by volunteers, part-timers or full-time employees.

Run Jordan events are charitable and part of the corporate social responsibility programme. The Association is a not-for-profit NGO. In 2016 Run Jordan launched the “Road Runners programme”, offering participants free weekly training with the RunJordan training groups.

Since 2016 a series of children’s races have been organised separately from the main events. These races included categories for children with special needs and are intended to provide a way of integrating them into the Run Jordan programme.

All the Association’s main races have highlighted professional athletes from special needs categories, such as wheelchair and visually impaired runners, supporting their participation in international races and helping them to obtain assistance from other bodies. Special categories of races were created with prizes and recognition for the competitors. This was followed by the introduction of partially blind and completely blind races in 2018.

In 2019 Lina El Kurd launched the Women’s Race, “Run for You” aiming to empower and support women in the local community and enhance their leadership roles in all fields. The race encouraged women to prioritise their health, future, and dreams while becoming role models for society and its aspirations.

During the COVID-19 period Run Jordan developed a virtual running system to compete with global platforms. Many virtual races organised included “Run for Palestine,” “Run for Beirut,” “Amman Marathon,” “Red Sea Half Marathon,” and “Dead Sea Ultra Marathon.”

Lina El Kurd actively participated in several conferences focusing on sports tourism and race organisation, representing Jordan as a female leader in these events.

Following the first event in 2019 the second women’s race took place, after the Covid pandemic had receded, on 14 July 2023 under the banner: “Championing Women’s Wellness and Empowerment in Sports”.

This reinvigorated event was held under the Patronage of Her Highness Princess Dana Firas, who said: “Sports are an effective tool for promoting community participation, empowering women and youth, investing in human health and safety, and achieving sustainable development goals. The women’s race is important in highlighting the need to prioritize women’s health and their active participation in sports activities and various community events to promote the principles of women’s empowerment, gender equality, and building self-confidence in girls.”

Lina El Kurd commented: “The Women’s Race serves as a platform for women of diverse backgrounds, ages, and abilities to come together in the pursuit of physical and mental well-being. Run Jordan firmly believes that physical activity is a fundamental aspect of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and through this race, they inspire women across the country to prioritize their wellness and embrace the transformative power of sports. The event encourages women to challenge themselves, fostering self-confidence, solidarity, and personal growth.”

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