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Despite Ban, Iranian Women Participate from Sidelines in ‘I Run Iran’ Marathon

Iran banned women from participating in the “I Run Iran” marathon; however, two women decided to unofficially run on the sidelines of the first-of-its-kind race, which took place this past Saturday in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

AFP video journalist Bahar Soghi first posted the image of the women running on her Twitter feed along with the following caption:

According to Canada’s Running magazine, approximately 250 male runners participated in Iran’s first-ever marathon of its kind. It started at the city gate of Shiraz and finished in the legendary city of Persepolis, which was the ancient capital city of the historic Persian Empire. The race’s finish line was located in Naqsh-e Rostam, where the pre-Islamic Cube of Zoroaster (Kaba-ye Zardusht) is located.

Running posted the preliminary results of Saturday’s race. The top three spots went to Iranians:

1. Farzollah Rostami (Iran) – 2:43
2. Mahmud Faraji (Iran) – 2:48
3. Abdulrahman Mirzayi (Iran) – 2:56

Dutch entrepreneur and former backpacker Sebastian Straten, 42, came up with the idea for “I Run Iran,” hoping to create a place where travelers hailing from all over the globe could gather and meet. Straten organized the marathon through the Iran Silk Road, a national travel company in which he invests. His ultimate goal is to create and foster a better relationship between Iran and the West.

Straten said he fell for Iran in 2005 during a backpacking trip of the ancient Silk Road route, which began in Istanbul and ended in Kashmir. He said he expects that the marathon will “have a positive impact on the image the West has of Iran. It is more than a marathon. It is opening the Persian gates to tourism, to show the real beauty and treasures of Iran.”

Back in January, Straten said he hoped the next edition of the marathon would garner the regime’s permission to allow women to participate, as well.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.

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