Approximately 12,000 participants from 71 countries, unseasonably hot temperatures of about 35 degrees C--over 90 degrees F, and a race route that took runners and walkers through downtown Amman streets lined with traditional old-city dwellers and shop keepers all combined to make the first Amman International Marathon/10K Run an event rather than a race. Why, His Majesty King Abdallah even sent his regards by way of four special planes to swoop down over the start of the race, twice, in perfect formation.
Dear Husband, Active Son, Artist Son, and I ran the 10K along with a couple of friends. Tayta ran the was-supposed-t0-be-4K-but-was-really-only-about-2K Run with a couple of her friends.
In the far right of our after-the-races group picture is our new friend, Jon. We are pleased to stand with him in this picture because besides being a really great guy, he is a really great runner--the kind that runs at the front of the pack. It was a pleasure to cheer him on as he ran--fast--with the best of them. He placed sixth, or ninth, in the Men's 10K Run. Way ahead of the rest of us. We finished, though all of us with slower times than we had hoped for due to the heat. And I'm thinking the distinct intermingling wasit il-balad (city center) odors of garbage, coffee, spices, and oily asphalt had something to do with it too. My excuse only.
Good effort by the race organizers, but runners in Jordan are still waiting for a race run well, with accurate mileage markers, cups of water (instead of hard to drink from environmentally unsound plastic bottles which have to be dodged by runners because they are thrown on the ground--this was downright hazardous when the water met the oily asphalt.), and more participants who are committed to running a fair race--cheaters abounded whenever the opportunity presented itself and many remained in the race until the end. Another suggestion: have the many, many walkers begin the race after the runners; when I wasn't dodging water bottles I was weaving through groups of walkers, at least at the start of the race. And then there were the walkers who were playing soccer with the water bottles...