Yes we did it, We took it to the streets !

It has been a few days since the marathon finished but till now we are still living its effects. The 2011 marathon was not like any other marathon before, it was like a sweet dream or a fairy tale or one of the Shahrazad stories in the famous 1001 nights. Everything was well managed on that day: the course, the organization, the water and Gatorade stations, the street closures, the cheering stations and all other aspects of the race which are too many to count. But above all of this there was another story going on. A story of the “Elite Running Club” racers who were writing their own alphabets with every move they made on that lovely Sunday. A running alphabet that only those who adores and know the value of running would understand.

I don’t know from where to start, but as a beginning, on the early moments of that day I was looking toward each one of you I noticed the expressions on the faces, it was a kind of enthusiasm mixed with fear, eagerness for good results with some conscious, strength with weakness. All in all, it was a mixture of human feelings which are normal on such occasions, but I felt happy and optimistic that today was ours and no one will be able to stop you when you started running through the streets of the capital.

The moment of truth approached all of us on the Start Line and the heart beats were almost heard clearly and I was almost able to count the breaths of each one of you. The image was very impressive our team almost dominating the race - wherever you looked, you could see the white and yellow Shirts with the big red (O) – representing the team sponsor, Olivetti Company- visible everywhere. Afew moments and the race started and what happened then was the real story which was more than I expected.

As it appeared on the TV programs such as LBC, New TV, MTV, NBN and others, you could clearly notice the huge number of our Elite running Club racers. The new club logo was obvious on the backs of runners; any “ERC” runner was easily noticed from about 200m.

In numbers, we were the largest group participating in the event with 93 Marathoners. From these 93 athletes 83 runners crossed the finish line completing the 42.195 km. The total number of runners who completed the 42.2 km race were 421. We also had 27 runners in the 10 km Race, 14 Runners in the 5 km Race, one relay team and one Wheelchair athlete participating in the 10 km Race.

As for the results, all of our runners’ results were better than last year’s marathon by up to 30 minutes less than the 2010 marathon, and most of them scored new Personal Best records. The results were amazing and rarely happen in an event with such a large number of athletes from one club.

In the female category, our ladies were brilliant. Elga Trad was the star as usual, with third place Overall in the Lebanese category and first place in her age category (40-44). She entered the sub 3H:18min club with her time of 3:17:59. Katia Rached, our Challenger girl was fifth overall in the female Lebanese category in her first ever marathon in a time of 3:47:59s. This is even more remarkable since only eight months before her 10 km time was 60 minutes. Moreover, it was a double score for Katia because she also got the best result for a first time participant Aurelie Collette, our survivor, was the example of a big heart and encouragement when   she came back to Beirut after the Severe accident she had during the summer in one of the races to participate in the marathon and she was able to finish so smoothly. In general all our ladies were astonishing with no exceptions they were the motto for the “ERC” spirit. In the age categories, we had the lady with the sweetest smile Dania Nasser third (35-39), Haneen El Sayed was ranked second (50-54), and Jacky Younan first (55-59).

In the male category our gents were also brilliant with Marwan El Arabi in the 21st place overall, the 4th Lebanese  and the 1st civilian to finish the race with 2:43:09, and of course he got the first place in his age category (45-49). The new star Abdul Rahman Al Omari was third in the Lebanese civilian category scoring 2:56:35 in his first ever marathon. He is a runner whose name we should note for the results he will score in the future. Can you imagine the results he will achieve with more marathons and more experience? Also, in their first marathons, the 3:11:00 time of Hadi Assaf was amazing scoring 3:11:00 and Mustapha Hotait, the youngest runner in the 42.195 km who is only 19 years old (1992), arrived in 3h:30:04. In the age categories our gents scored the following: (55-59) first Ahmad Ghozayel 3:21:59 and second Michel Mousalem 3:32:26. In the age category (60-64) first Manuel Izmerlian. (65-69) first Adel Arakji and second Fayez EL Rayess. (70-74) first Abdullah Bitar, second Rahif Tamim and third Hasan Mahdi.

In the other races, our relay team was ranked the 5th out of 32 teams who completed the course (justbefore ISF 1 Team) . In the 5 km race, our youth Georges Haddad was 4th overall with a personal best of 17min:51sec in his age category (15-17) those who were infront of Georges were Iraqi athletes but this never demotivated Georges, instead it gave him and us the will to achieve more and more in the future. In the same race but different age group (11-12), we had Emanuel Zgheib and Andrew Mouawad in the 4th place with a time of 20min:04 sec.

This was the harvest of a whole season of planning, organizing, working and training. Its what we achieved as a united running family. I would like to thank each one of you for your hard work in the running tracks or in logistic services without saying any word or complaining about any thing. There may have been some conflicting views but all were minor things for the sake of the club only. Thank you all for this beautiful Alphabet you have created, the story you have told and the legend you have grown.We  are also proud of our 36 first timers in the 42km race.

And for our runners who didn’t have the chance to finish for a reason or another I would like to tell them there is an Olympic Moto which says: “Let me win. But if I can’t. Let me be brave in the attempt”. You were so brave on November 27, 2011.

Good bye Beirut International Marathon 2011 and welcome Beirut International Marathon 2012.

Dr. Ahmad Khalifeh
President of Elite Running Club