Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Season Ten of Iqraa: Running for a Brighter Palestine!

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Season Ten of Iqraa: Running for a Brighter Palestine!

Article excerpt

Team Iqraa begins our 10th season of running for a brighter Palestine on Saturday, May 6. Here are a few things you should know about us.

* Our slogan reflects our desire to improve educational opportunities for Palestinian youth. Iqraa, which means "Read" in Arabic, is devoted to running and fund-raising to provide university scholarships to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

* The initial training run is one mile for half-marathoners and three miles for marathoners. The training mileage increases incrementally each week to ensure runners gain racing fitness without risking injury.

* Iqraa runners reflect the diverse background of interests and passions that make up American society and the Washington, DC metro area. It is a non-sectarian and non-political association. We're just a group of runners united by our slogan and mission statement, "Running for a brighter Palestine."

* Our slogan is featured prominently on our red-and-white running jerseys, which are sponsored by United Palestinian Appeal. Each Iqraa runner earns a free running jersey by running and fund-raising.

Iqraa cooperates closely with UPA, a 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization. All donations raised by Iqraa runners go to UPA-implemented scholarship programs at nine universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since 2008, Iqraa runners and volunteers have raised more than $208,000 for UPA-implemented education projects.

We also partner with the Marathon Charity Cooperation, an umbrella group of locally based charities, many with international focus and reach. The MCC and its charity partners provide training and race day support for all our runners. This includes coaches, running advice, pace groups, food, drink, and shelter on race day. We train at about a half-dozen trails in the metropolitan area on a rotating basis.

Here's an important fact about our Iqraa runners. We have runners at all levels: fast and slow, beginners and veterans. All that matters is a desire to work to improve educational opportunities for Palestinians. Even so, our runners include some outstanding achievers. Some of us have become certified coaches through a program run by the Road Runners Club of America. And several Iqraa runners have qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon, probably the most elite of American marathons because of its time-based qualification regime. …

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