Egypt runners defy Cairo mayhem

2015-04-18 19:56
Egyptian runners warm up before they take part in Cairo's annual half marathon. (Amr Nabil, AP)

Egyptian runners warm up before they take part in Cairo's annual half marathon. (Amr Nabil, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Young Egyptians are once again organising on social media and taking to the streets of Cairo by the hundreds every Friday, not to protest injustice or clash with police, but to enjoy long runs through one of the world's most crowded and chaotic cities.

On a recent Friday morning around 300 young people gathered at a central square, a small fraction of the 2,500 that had signed up for the event on Facebook, but a reasonable showing for an event held at 07:00 on a weekend.

No jogging paths

Organisers with bullhorns led the crowd of young men and women - many wearing headscarves - in a warm-up, and then they took off, flooding a four-lane road and occasionally parting before honking taxis.

Cairo, a city of some 20 million people packed onto the banks of the Nile, with few green spaces and no jogging paths, is an unlikely venue for distance running.

The streets are jammed at nearly all hours with smoke-belching microbuses, manic taxis, speeding motorbikes and the occasional donkey cart. The crumbling sidewalks are often worse - blocked by parked cars, mounds of garbage and mangy street dogs. Anyone who runs in Cairo can expect stares and gentle mocking and women must contend with leering, lewdness and occasional unwanted touching.

Traffic circles

And yet despite all the obstacles, young Egyptians have launched several increasingly popular running clubs over the past two years. A half-marathon this weekend drew thousands of runners, and more than 200 volunteers - some wearing American football pads and helmets - deftly guided the runners through traffic circles and onto and off of overpasses.

Small running groups catering mainly to expatriates have been around for years, but Egyptians trace the growth in local interest to Cairo Runners, a group with a large social media presence that attracts hundreds of people to its weekly runs and has inspired similar groups across the city.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.