May El Khalil
Prestige N 287-288, Déc. 2017-Jan. 2018
Since fifteen years, she runs, builds and develops her dream, the Marathon. A dream that took shape on her hospital bed where during two years she overcame with incredible courage, between life and death, a difficult situation and thirty six surgeries. Today May El Khalil, pioneer of the Marathon culture in Lebanon and president-founder of Beirut Marathon, runs and encourages citizens and worldwide runners to participate in the event. Objective? Serve a humanitarian cause and the economy of Lebanon, during a day of gathering, peace and union. A passion told to Prestige.
«The Marathon, to make Beirut the capital of sport and peace»
How was the Beirut Marathon association born? I always loved to run, to stay in shape and keep a good moral state. In 2001, my life was turned upside down while I was training in Lebanon to participate in a marathon abroad. I was hit by a truck. The accident left me in coma. After two years spent in hospital and thirty six surgeries, I was ready to walk, but running was not possible. On my hospital bed, an idea gave me hope and motivation: creating an international marathon for Lebanon. If I was unable to run, why not encourage my compatriots to realize the importance of participating in a largescale course?
This implies an infrastructure and fees…The annual organization of Beirut Marathon remains a challenge. The culture of running, in constant evolution does not attract investors. Sports marketing is weak in this part of the world. We are delighted to have partners that share our vision. The funds come from our sponsors, to cover expenses estimated around 1.700.000 dollars. In accordance with international standards, the marathon generates 13 million dollars to the Lebanese economy.
What added value did the marathon bring you? Team work. During my stay in Nigeria, I had a social activity to collect funds and help the local community. The marathon is an engagement in an event for my country, through a sport that I really love. It is a sport event that leads to unity, peace and gathering.
What is the importance of the Marathon? We aspire to see more persons run for causes, for an NGO partner, to whom we grant 25% of the registration fees. During 15 years, we granted 1.300.000 dollars to NGO’s from registration fees. We wish to have more heroes running, mainly young people. The Marathon is a symbol of gathering in Beirut and Lebanon. Our motto« Peace, love, run», gave us the opportunity to gather all communities for one day, far from religion, discrimination and politics. We want to make Beirut the capital of sports and peace, by attracting more international runners.
What was the program for this year? We have created the fastest marathon, to improve the scores and to welcome more runners. We supervised the progress of the marathon by installing more than 30 medical tents.
What about the theme? «15 years of running» in relation with our 15th anniversary. We thanked all those who contributed to bring the marathon to be the big name it is today. The «15 years of running…» represent 15 years of giving, sharing, happiness, unity, engagement and willingness.
Who participates in the marathon? We believe in human communication. Jogging is an individual sport that inspires the others to run. We visited villages, the Beqaa, schools, politicians and ambassadors. In four years, our training program «542» trained marathoners, and our media department organized campaigns targeting all the population, including the handicapped, since 22 athletes received 22 bikes to run.
What is the secret of success? Success is to create a positive impact in the life of people. My definition of success changed over the years, I accumulate experiences to stay in the race for success despite some inevitable disappointments that I face sometimes.