Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The Great Cairo Kidathon

Hundreds of young runners took part in the first Cairo Kidathon for charity last week, reports Omneya Youssry

Al-Ahram Weekly

Hundreds of kids between the ages of six and 14 took to the streets of Zamalek last Friday for Muricata’s one-of-a-kind Great Cairo Kidathon. The aim of the event was to motivate youngsters to adopt a healthier lifestyle and contribute to society.

The event was launched by Egyptian mountain climber Omar Samra and his company Muricata, a branch of his firm Wild Guanabana, which organises wilderness experiences to young people.

The Kidathon was a free event. Each runner was asked to register by donating a toy or toys to the NGO Toy Run. When each runner registered, Muricata’s team got in touch, delivered a running kit to his or her doorstep and collected the toy to be donated.

All the donated toys, about 1,000 in number, will be distributed to children in the Abou Al-Reesh Hospital in Cairo.

The Kidathon followed a loop route around Zamalek, with children competing in three categories. Children between six and eight years old ran accompanied by their parents for two kilometres. Children aged between nine and 11 ran a two-kilometre solo run, and children from 12 to 14 ran for four kilometres.

“The event was just an idea six months ago. One of the things we do in Muricata is organise activities that enrich children’s self-reliance and personal capacities, our goal being to encourage kids to do sports from a young age. We used to run camps like the scouts, but then we discovered a great turnout among adults to do new sports, so we decided to do something special only for kids,” Omar Samra said.

“This is the first event of its kind in Cairo, though it’s the third one in Egypt as we organised two marathons for kids in Gourna in 2014 and in Sahl Hashish in 2015, respectively. We want to organise this new event periodically, especially because of the overwhelming enthusiasm even before the event began. We received more than the number of competitors we planned for, or 300 children, well before the registration deadline.”

As for the challenges Samra and his team faced during the last three months preparing for the event, Samra said, “The difficult part was securing the route, closing the streets where the run takes place, and getting the necessary permits. However, the authorities were helpful all the way. We also collaborated with Zamalek Guardians group volunteers on the logistics and finding the safest route for participants. They went first on bikes to make sure the route was safe for the participating children, so everything was kept well under control.”

Inertia, a real estate company and the event’s sponsor, also allowed Muricata to make it a free event offering prizes to the winners. “The event had MBC TV as an exclusive media sponsor covering it, and Nougum and Nile FM covered it for the radio.

The Sawy Cultural Wheel was the venue for the starting and ending points and for announcing the winners, as well as for hosting activities including family yoga classes and arts and crafts sessions. The day finished with an exclusive Cairokee concert on its stage,” Norhan Kandil, the public relations organiser of the event, said.

All the children received certificates for participating, along with Kidathon T-shirts, medals and invitations to the concert. Prizes were given to 18 winners, three for boys and three for girls in each age category. In the eight to ten years category for boys, Basel Allaa took first place, with Mohamed Khaled second and Youssef Mamdoh third. For girls in the same age group, Lily Ahmed came first, followed by Khadija Amr and Haya Khaled.

In the ten to 12 years category for boys, the first prize winner was Abdel-Rahman Yehia followed by Seif Ashraf and Ahmed Alaa Al-Din. For girls, it was Malak Khaled followed by Reham Hassan and Habiba Khaled. In the 12 to 14 years category for boys, first prize went to Adam Atwa, followed by Karim Hesham and Abdel-Rahman Ragab. For girls, first prize went to Hala Hany, followed by Jacqueline Riad and Salma Ashraf.

Hala Hany, 14 years old and the first prize winner in the 12 to 14 category, expressed her happiness at being a Kidathon participant, saying, “I’m a member of the Police Union pentathlon team, and of course I love running. I heard about the event through team members who are all participating today. My parents and coach refused to let me participate, but eventually I convinced them, and here I am.”

Hala said that she loved the organisation of the event and the transparency of the prize-giving. She also loved her bicycle, a gift from Inertia. As for Salma Ashraf, who won third place in the same age category, she said, “I won a trampoline, but I’m happier with my participation than with the gift. I heard about Wild Guanabana before, and I know who Omar Samra is. I have been longing to see him for ages. I will definitely join the Kidathon next year.”

Although Khadija Amr, second place in the eight to 10 category, is only nine years old, she knows Omar Samra was the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest. “I’m happy because I won, and they gave me a nice watch,” she said.

“It’s rare to find such a special and well-organised event for kids, which is why we were encouraged to join,” said Amr Hamada, Khadija’s father. “The venue is beautiful, the run was very secure, and the organisers were very helpful. We will definitely participate next time round to defend our prize.”

Mahdy Al-Olaby, the father of seven-year-old twin runners, said, “I knew about the event by following the Wild Guanabana and Muricata pages on Facebook. My wife and I joined them in two trips, and I’m planning to let my kids join their camps as well. The day exceeded our expectations. The idea is totally new for Egyptian kids, and the charity part was very encouraging, plus there was no cost at all for us.”

Said Al-Olaby, “I would like to thank everybody from the organising team who made enormous efforts to control this huge number of kids and parents. I would have liked to have seen more support from the authorities to help close the streets, however. In the end, the participants are all kids, and if even one had got hurt everything would have been ruined.

“All in all, the thing we loved the most was the positive energy that we got from giving the kids the opportunity to participate in the competition. Whether they won or not, we enjoyed the day as a family.”

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