First Tehran marathon bids to ‘build bridges’ with US runners

Americans are among runners from more than 50 countries who have registered to run in the Iranian capital’s first marathon, billed as an opportunity to “build bridges,” organisers said Friday.

Women too are being invited to register for the April 7 race, provided they comply with Iran’s Islamic dress code. They were barred from a first Iranian city marathon in Shiraz last year.

Visas have yet to be issued for the 28 American entrants who have signed up so far, one organiser told AFP.

But he said that was more because of the shutdown of government offices since March 19 for the Persian New Year holiday than because of the recriminations over US President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on visas for Iranians.

When Trump first announced the ban in January, Tehran said it would take tit-for-tat action against Americans travelling to Iran.

But a federal court then halted the ban in February, allowing an Iranian archery team to travel to the United States and an American wrestling team to compete in Iran.

A revised visa ban issued on March 6 has also been halted by the federal courts. The issue is particularly contentious for Iranians as more than one million live, work or study in the United States.

Organisers said they hoped the 42-kilometre (26 mile) race through the streets of Tehran from Azadi (Freedom) Tower to the east of the city would “promote international friendship, build bridges and break barriers”.

More than 360 runners have already registered, most of them from abroad, and organisers said they hoped that would rise to more than 1,100.

Men can wear running shorts and short sleeves. Women must wear a headscarf or sports bandana over their hair, a T-shirt long enough to cover their hips and leggings that show no bare skin.

There will also be a half marathon and a 10 kilometre race, as well as a one kilometre fun run for children.


© Agence France-Presse