- 24 May 2006
- IOC News
22,000 gazelles in the streets of Casablanca
The 8th edition of the Fun Run set a new participation record, with more than 22,000 gazelles – as they are nicknamed in Morocco – aged from 15 to 75 taking over the streets of Casablanca for a unique and unforgettable experience.
The brainchild of an Olympic champion
This race was created in 1993 at the initiative of the first Moroccan, African and Muslim female Olympic champion, Nawal El Moutawakel, an IOC member and President of the Moroccan Sport and Development Association (the event organiser). After retiring from competition, five years after her 400m hurdles gold medal in Los Angeles en 1984, Nawal El Moutawakel began using her fame to serve others. “I used to run for pleasure”, she said, “and that opened up so many horizons and helped me deal with so many social pressures. I regard myself as an ambassador for sport and my country, with the duty to pass on my hard-won experience and the true values of sport, to relieve those who suffer from prejudice and unequal opportunities.”
There could be no better expression of this fight for equality than this women’s race. And the best response to this challenge is the fact that the Casablanca Run has become an unmissable event for Moroccan women and a growing number of top female athletes from other countries. This year, 32 countries were represented – another record for this Casablanca race! And a delegation of 15 women representing the IOC had also made the trip as a sign of solidarity.
More than a race
For all these gazelles, the Casablanca run is more than just a 10km race. Crossing the finish line is, of course, the aim, but it is also about sharing moments of joy, courage and perseverance, and forging unbreakable bonds of friendship. For these 22,101 gazelles had come to Casablanca above all for the pleasure of running.
For the record, it was Ethiopia’s Tayba Erekesso who won, in 31’53, ahead of Morocco’s Zhor El Khamch (32’07) and Kenya’s Magdalene Syombua Makuzi (32’14).
Official website of the Moroccan Sport and Development Association www.amsd.ma