LONDON: A British Muslim is set to begin a four-part marathon series to promote sport in the UK’s Muslim community and to raise money for people in Palestine.
Haroon Mota, from Coventry, nicknamed “marathon man” will run the Berlin Marathon on Sunday before competing in the London Marathon on Oct. 3, the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, and finally the New York Marathon on Nov. 7.
Initially, Mota said, running a marathon was something he wanted to do for personal reasons. But after running the 2011 Coventry Half Marathon and the 2012 London Marathon to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity, he said he was motivated to do more after noting “little representation of ethnic minorities” running alongside him.
“At first, running a marathon was something to tick off the bucket list,” Mota said. “While I have always been into sports and keeping fit, taking part in a marathon was supposed to be a one-off. Running also helped me deal with my grief after my father tragically passed away in a car accident.”
Mota initially put together a diverse team of fellow runners to take part in the Coventry Half Marathon and used social media to spread awareness of his intention. His personal Instagram account is now attracting more than 10,000 followers.
He worked to spread awareness about the importance of exercise during the coronavirus lockdown to the Muslim community, which, he said, often felt exercise was not part of its “DNA.” He also worked to promote safe exercise during Ramadan and ran more than 260 kilometers — while fasting — to raise £50,000 ($68,300) for good causes.
For this year’s challenge, however, Mota was inspired to also help those who suffered as a result of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in May.
“To raise awareness of their plight, I have pledged to raise £50,000 to help provide emergency aid to those affected by the most recent airstrikes and violent attacks in Gaza, and also offer humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families who are struggling with harsh economic hardship,” Mota said.
“I am particularly looking forward to taking part in the London leg of my four-marathon challenge.
Mota is a fundraising manager at Islamic Charity Penny Appeal, has visited Palestine several times over the past few years, and learned more about the plight of its people.
“Witnessing their struggle first hand, this is a cause I feel very passionate about,” he said. “I am now even more driven and committed to helping their plight, and this is why I am running for them.”
Those wishing to donate to Mota’s cause can do so via www.justgiving.com/running4palestine. His progress can be tracked via social media using the hashtag #Running4Palestine.