14 January 2017, 8am
Samsung Amman International Marathon
Fri 28 October 2016
The Marathon started in front of the greater Amman Municipality building before the hustle and bustle got up in the downtown area and was run over a sloping four lap course through streets that run past ancient monuments through the dusts of history to end at the city’s Roman Amphitheatre — the largest in the country — that rises above the surrounding buildings.
The cool misty weather provided the conditions for peak performances. Kenya’s Benjamin Kiprop achieved his second Amman victory after running side by side with his countryman Victor Kimeli for 35km before pulling away for a winning margin of 500m. Up-and-coming Jordanian marathoner, Ahmad Muhiasen took third and ducked under the 2:30 barrier. Jordan’s Olympic Marathoner, Methqal Al Abbadi and Bashar Raheel followed him home.
As the morning sun began to rise half marathon runners gathered at Raghadn Bridge, an old train station, to start the half marathon at 07.30. They merged with the marathon runners half way through their course to compete side by side as they ran in the valley between the seven main hills of Amman.
Each of these mounds helps to define a different neighborhood within the city. Thousands of years old, Amman has managed to retain both its authenticity and its small town charm. The city’s historical inheritance is etched into its streets and the best way to get a sense of it all is to run them.
The 10km fun run participants had their chance when they started at 09.00 from the main gate of the first sports city, which bears the name of late King Hussein. Over 10000 people participated in this race which took runners through what is currently known as Western Amman with its modern architecture, five-star hotels and highly urbanised character down to the finish line in central Amman.
The 10km route allowed participants to uncover a trove of unmissable experiences, as they strolled the streets of several of the seven hills that Amman is built upon. Starting from Sports city roundabout to Shmeisa — the business and banking area — runners made their way down Wadi Saqra Street and then up to Jabal Amman’s third circle (one of the few roundabouts left from the eight circles for which Amman is famous). From the third circle, runners took the steep downhill road to Ras al-Ain and joined the marathon and half marathon runners, but on a separate part of the road, as they headed towards the finish line at the gate of the Roman Amphitheatre built into the side of one of those hills.
The awards ceremony was held at the Roman amphitheatre built to accommodate 6000 spectators. It is one of the best-preserved such structures anywhere in the world and many cultural and national events are held there. With national songs and to great cheers from the crowd the winners were felicitated by HRH Prince Firas Bin Raad, the event patron. Anyone attending the ceremony, if they glanced up, could see one of the main Roman ruins in Amman; Jabal al Qal’a, or the Amman Citadel, where more than 7000 years of history is showcased in its crumbling pillars, arches and staircases. There are also the ruins of the Temple of Hercules — a testament to Amman’s claim to be one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
Runners from over 25 nations competed in the races. Prince Firas Bin Raad himself completed the 10km event. The standard of performance in the Amman Marathon is rising each year and with the establishment of running groups in both Amman and the Red Sea port of Aqaba an increased number of local runners are now graduating to the half and full marathon distances.