RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s first full marathon was officially launched on Wednesday, as part of ongoing efforts to promote wellbeing and physical activity levels across the population.
The Riyadh Marathon takes place on March 5, 2022, and registration opens on Dec. 2. Everyone will be encouraged to join in, race organizers of the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) said.
“We just inaugurated the marathon for March 5, 2022, and we’re expecting 10,000 international and local participants,” Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, SFA president, told Arab News. “The Riyadh Marathon is a path for people of all ages and abilities across the country, and the globe, to take part in a world-class sporting event. We can't wait to welcome everyone at the marathon start line in March next year.”
The marathon will see runners take on the challenge of a 42-kilometer course that starts in King Saud University and continues through the city, with top finishers receiving monetary prizes of more than SR1 million ($266,666).
There will be other races to allow people of all ages and athletic abilities to participate.
On offer will be a half marathon for regular runners, a 10-kilometer race for those aged 17 and above, and a 4-kilometer race for beginners and children.
People are encouraged to register on www.riyadhmarathon.org.
The SFA is offering training programs and digital resources to help participants toward their fitness goals and to get them ready for the big race.
“We’re launching the website in the next few days, there will be a number of templates for training and preparation and meal plans for the marathon runners, half-marathon runners as well as the 10 and 4-kilometer races,” Alwaleed said. “Previously we created a program called CSG, the community sports groups, and another called RFS, request for support, if any private citizen wanted to create their own football league for example, we can help facilitate acquiring permission.”
The Riyadh Marathon weekend will also offer food, entertainment and recreational activities at a dedicated village, while Twitter campaigns for the race have been taking place since October.
Under the Quality of Life program — part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 — the SFA has held events, programs and initiatives to help fulfill its mandate of increasing physical activity levels to 40 percent by 2030. That goal was achieved ahead of its target date.
“Alhamdulillah we achieved that figure last year in 2020 and we’re looking to sustain that momentum. What does active mean? Active means to be physically active 150 minutes a week.”
There will be a half marathon on Nov. 27 in Khobar with plans to hold a full marathon in Jeddah down the line, Alwaleed added.
The SFA, which was established in 2018, works to drive community sports in the Kingdom.
“There needed to be a body that would encompass all people, instead of just elites and the only way you can get elites is by engaging people to be active. That’s why the SFA was established with the Ministry of Sport.”
A five-year national strategy created by the SFA in 2020 targets children, young adults, adults and senior citizens.
One of its most high-profile initiatives was the “Step Together” program, a series of virtual walk-run challenges that attracted thousands of people.
The SFA hosted the Riyadh Half Marathon in 2018, which drew more than 11,000 participants from different nationalities, ages and abilities.
There was an 8-kilometer race for amateurs and para athletes, and a 4-kilometer fun run for families.