Some 500 youth participated in a mini-marathon in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu on Friday running one of the most dangerous tracks in the world.
Officials from the sports ministry and Somalia’s olympic committee said security was tight during the race. They said the fact that it went ahead was a sign that life in Mogadishu will move on in the face attacks.
But hours after the marathon ended, two blasts were reported in the city.
I am very happy to win Mogadishu mini-Marathon. It is the first time that I have participated is such game and I hope to win many more races. I am a member of the Somali national athletics team.
“It is the first such race to be held in Mogadishu in the last 20 years. It was an initiative of the Somali Ministry of Sports. They are started from KM 4 to Daljirka Dahson, which is the most secure road to run such a race in Mogadishu,” said Khadija Aden Dahir, a member of Somalia’s Olympic Committee.
Runners in the three kilometer-race are active in other sports like football, basketball and volleyball which are gaining popularity as the country sees a resurgence in sport.
Many of the stadiums in Mogadishu had been turned into military spaces under al Shabaab, and sporting events were banned, as they were deemed to be “un-islamic” by the islamist militants.
The winner, Ali Idow Hassan finished the race in 10 minutes 23 seconds.
“I am very happy to win Mogadishu mini-Marathon. It is the first time that I have participated is such game and I hope to win many more races. I am a member of the Somali national athletics team,” said Hassan.
“We are awarding the three first runners with gold, silver and copper medals and that should encourage more Somali youth to take part in races like these,” said Somalia’s minister of sport, Kahdija Mohamed Diriye.
Organizers say this will be the first of more annual road races.
Insecurity has plagued Somalia since the ouster of President Siad Barre in 1991 sparked two decades of conflict.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants carry out frequent bombings and other attacks in Mogadishu in a campaign to topple Somalia’s Western-backed federal government.