Running in the Shoes of Great Women

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Serena Williams has an inspiring message for women in the new Nike commercial.

The tennis champion reminds us that every time we women tried to stand out or dream of equal opportunity, we were called hysterical, irrational, or just plain crazy. Crazy to run in races, or dunk a basketball, or compete in boxing.

But it’s precisely because women pioneers stuck to “crazy” and shattered barriers that we now have women champions. From Marie Curie to Kathrine Switzer (the first official marathon runner) and modern heroes like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, these women blazed a trail not just in sports but also in business, science, politics, and in outer space.

Serena Williams concludes in the commercial: “So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.”

And that’s what I and many other women plan on doing this year (again) at the Saradar Bank Women's Race!


Crazy about running

The first time the Beirut Marathon Association held a women-only race in Lebanon was in 2013. Then, the race aimed at putting the spotlight on what women are capable of achieving by themselves. Over the years, the event gained huge traction: by 2018, the percentage of female runners in long-distance races had nearly doubled!

At Saradar Bank, we are lucky to be part of an organization that values sports and competition – particularly running – as well as gender equality. So it’s no surprise that we have been the sponsors of this race, renamed the Saradar Bank Women’s Race, for the past three years.

In the words of Mr. Mario Saradar, CEO of Saradar Bank:

“The Women’s Race is a platform that involves women in competitive sports, empowering them to run forward towards bigger goals, higher dreams and wider objectives. Women play an important role in our society and it is our duty to give them the needed support to achieve their objectives.”

The first time Saradar Bank sponsored the race in 2017, it was my first race. Thanks to my determination and hard months of practice ahead of the race, I was able to complete the 10K run in 1 hour and 3 minutes without stopping to rest.

It was the best feeling to cross the finish line with my fellow female participants while our male colleagues cheered us on! So much that the next year we encouraged our colleagues to invite their husbands and children to the open “Fun Run.”

This year, we had the opportunity to train with one of the top athletes at Saradar Bank and one of the first members of let’S run, our track and field club: Albert Tohme. We practiced three times a week, setting the bar higher every time to improve our speed and endurance.


Dare to be crazy

All joking aside, running isn’t that crazy. In fact, it has important physical and mental benefits: it helps us burn calories, stay fit, reduce stress, and improve our heart and mental health.

And if running is so good for you, imagine what you’d gain from doing other “crazy” things. What if you were elected president? Or CEO? Or opened your own company?

50 years ago, women had to fight for a place in sports. It wasn’t until 1972 that we were allowed to participate in races! But look at us now: all this determination paid off and suddenly “crazy” is starting to look more and more realistic.

Now our fight is mainly in our mind. A woman who thinks “I don’t have time to work out, I can’t do it, I can’t finish the race, etc.” won’t get far.

Motivation is easy to find. Ask yourself “Which activities do you enjoy practicing? Which ones would you like to practice? What is your ultimate goal from working out or doing anything outside your comfort zone? What is standing in your way?”

Now take up the challenge and go for your goal. Keep trying until you get there. No woman (or man) was born a champion; they became champions through hard work and determination.

So ladies, whether you will soon be running your first race, or running for office, or running your own company, or running after your dream, I want to wish you the best of luck!

And if they call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do!

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