It was 4:00 am when my alarm went off, and like most human beings I snoozed it till 4:20, but waking up and getting ready for the big day wasn’t hard, as I was really excited about being part of the 10 km fun run of the Dead Sea Marathon. To me, the event was a challenge, a chance to see if I was fit enough to walk 10 km in one day. When I say walk, I mean walk, as I am not really the athlete, and I had no intention of running 1km let alone 10.
Arriving at the gathering point at 5:00 am, I was shocked by the number of people who showed up for the event. It seems that we Jordanians are not lazy after all, we could wake up at 5:00am on a weekend when we want to.
After a group effort to push and shove to get on the busses, we finally got to the spot where the run was to start. And, it was at that point that the real entertainment started. People pushed and shoved those in front of them at the start line, probably thinking that they had a better chance of winning if they started a fraction of a second earlier. Other runners were cheering and chanting at the start line, as if they were at the football stadium, but then again the event was a sportive one, and it was fun to hear their cheers
The music blasted, a countdown was made, and at the start signal we all charged forward towards a finish line 10km away. At the humiliating speed I was going, I had a chance to see some very entertaining sites along the way. First and foremost I was shocked by the number of girls who had their hair done before the race.
I am not exaggerating here, one girl even had her hair curled with a curling iron, while the other had her hair straightened. Despite the heat, these girls managed to walk with their hair down and without breaking a sweat. Either, they had some divine biological capacities, or they were sweating under the perfect hair. In contrast, their were others who ran, and ran as if their life depended on it Those were the people struck by the heat, and some of the guys belonging to this category even made a show of their hardship by taking their shirts off, and giving us a show of their sometimes flabby, sometimes muscular chests.
The organizers were generous enough to pass out water at the different check points, some people drank the water and looked for a place to throw their empty bottles, while others threw them as far as their arm could reach. Runners, had every justification to do that, after all they were keeping time. But, I am sure walkers like me, could have spared a few seconds to get rid of the empty bottle in a civilized manner. Water wasn’t only used for drinking, as their was a group of school kids who took the opportunity to run and splash each other with the drinking water inside these bottles. The water fight lasted a long time, in fact it lasted throughout the whole run, and until the girls with the perfect hair eventually revealed their real curls under the wet hair strands. The water fight included threats, swearwords, giggles, the whole lot, you really had to be there.
Some people sang on the way, with their songs ranging from chants, to a poor attempt of Um kalthoom’s ballads. Some runners even ran barefoot. I was told that was healthier, but not being the runner myself, I would never know. Some of the runners opted to stop and have a picnic on the way, while others ate and threw their candy, chips, or chocolate wrappers, or whatever it was they were snacking on, on the road itself.
And of course, there were the amazing people who put us walkers to shame. These were serious senior citizens from different corners of the globe who reached the finish line before many of us. I salute those people, and I really think it is great that they are at this age and they can still be so fit.
But admirations aside, let’s face it no event would ever be complete without the input of the “the look at me crowd”, these were a group of friends who strove to stop every five minutes to take group photos, individual photos by the sea, photos making absurd faces, and photos in full motion. They were probably on a mission, a mission to prove to anyone that didn’t join them at the event that they had a blast. Others from “the look at me crowd” walked as if they were on the catwalk of the Paris Fashion Week, with a serious expression in their stride inviting everyone to look at them under the tight clothes that leave so little for the imagination. Aside from the fitting clothes, some runners wore as little clothes as possible, after all this is the closest they would get to throwing a beach party in Jordan. It probably wasn’t even an option for them to get back to Amman without a tan. And, based on this commitment, some women even ran with swim suits and shorts.
With this mix of people, it was no wonder that we all had an audience. Part of our audience included people drumming, singing, and clapping in the buses on the sides of the road, while our other audience included the men who leaned at the sides of their cars to get a good view of the girls passing by. There was also another group who were committed to looking at the runners, these included a group of men who parked their cars and smoked their argeela on the sidewalk, and yes there were argeela stops on the way, just for that purpose.
Walker, runner, or poser, never the less we all reached the finish line. Each in our own way and at our own speed. We all had fun in our own absurd way, and it was upon reaching the finish line that I realized that life itself is like a journey. If we all strive to move forward, and if we all make the move forward our only option, then yes our world would be a better place. I really enjoyed the event, and as for my health is concerned, right now, I don’t think any muscle is in place. Would I do it again, yes I would, but only when the aches disappear.