IAmA Pakistani ultra-marathon athlete competing in the toughest footrace in the world!
My name is Khawar Siddique and I am a Pakistani ultra-runner competing in Marathon des Sables (MDS) - dubbed the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’ by the Discovery Channel. This race is a 7 day ultra marathon where runners have to cover 257km in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments – the Sahara desert in Morocco. In the 50 degree C heat of the Sahara desert, participants run while carrying all food and equipment on their back for 7 days. The ultra race takes place over 6 stages where the terrain ranges from rocky grounds to soft sand dunes reaching as high as 1,000 feet.
I’m from Pakistan – a country with a proud history of producing world class sportsmen like Jahangir Khan and Wasim Akram. These men are true athletes and have inspired me to play sports. I was an active person during high school and university. I played squash, cricket and football. However, after joining the workforce as a Project Engineer, I got too busy and my participation in all athletic games took a backseat.
In the summer of 2013, I had a terrible accident that left me bed-ridden for two months with a painful neck injury and concussion. While lying in bed day in and day out, I kept thinking about how we take many things in our life for granted. Many of us don’t put in enough of an effort to maintain the two best tools that we have been blessed with – our mind and body. I made it a mission to take control of my life, start focusing on my health and encourage others to do the same. This is when I found my passion for long-distance running.
So I worked hard to get back in shape after my traumatic injury and ran my first marathon in January of 2015. An elite runner once said, “Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself, you can learn in 42.2 km”. Here is what I learned in my 42 km:
- Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries. They are always further than you think.
- It only counts when it starts hurting. Pain is a sign that you are becoming stronger and tougher. Embrace it.
- Listen to those who tell you that you can’t do it. Remember their names. You will share the news of your accomplishment with them first.
- Always remember to give back to the community that supports you. Sometimes you run with the hopes and dreams of those who can’t run for themselves.
- When passing by the ladies, even if you don’t feel like it, run in perfect form. ; )
I have to be honest, the first time I heard about The MDS, I thought to myself who will take on such a crazy challenge? The very next moment, I realized that I will be crazy NOT to do it! The organizers of this race also contribute towards childrens’ education and female empowerment in impoverished communities – two causes that are close to my heart. Hence I have been actively training for this race and with your support I will finally be able to turn this dream into a reality.
Follow my journey: Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/runwithkhawar/ Marathon page: http://www.marathondessables.com/en/ Twitter: @runwithkhawar Proof -https://twitter.com/runwithkhawar/status/823819299114598400 Instagram: @runwithkhawar Email: [email protected]