RIYADH: More than 20,000 male and female competitors from 125 countries, including Saudi Arabia, took part in the third edition of the Riyadh Marathon.
Organized by the Saudi Sports for All Federation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Arabian Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and the Saudi Arabian Athletic Federation, the marathon welcomed people of all ages and abilities on Feb. 10.
The numbers were a big increase on the 2023 total when 15,000 took part.
The start and finish line, and the accompanying Marathon Village, were located next to Kingdom Arena and Boulevard World. From here, runners were able to compete in four races: the marathon of 42.2 km; the half-marathon of 21.1 km; the 10 km; and the family-focused 4 km race. Both amateur and experienced runners took part, with a record number of female participants which exceeded 7,200.
Some 682 took part in the full marathon; 3,028 in the half-marathon; 7,938 in the 10 km; and 8,446 in the 4 km run. A total of 64 percent were male.
The SFA President Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud presented the professional winners of the marathon and half-marathon with their prizes, alongside Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini, SFA’s managing director.
The three winning participants in the women’s elite 42.2 km event all hailed from Ethiopia. Badane Bedatu Hirpa won the women’s elite marathon with Desta Nigist Muluneh second and Jebesa Zenebu Fikadu third.
Wilfred Kirwa Kigen (Kenya) won the men’s elite marathon, followed by Abe Gashahun of Ethiopia in second and Anouar El Ghouz of Morocco third.
The first-place athletes in the elite races for men and women were awarded $30,000 each, with $20,000 for second place, and $10,000 for those in third.
Elite runners in the marathon were awarded cash prizes all the way to 10th place.
Prince Khaled said: “The third edition of the Riyadh Marathon saw its biggest number of participants yet. It shows that our efforts to encourage all members of society within the Kingdom to engage in sports and become more physically active are working.
“In line with the mandate of the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative, events such as this are building a healthier, happier population. And with increasing numbers of participants from abroad, we are raising Saudi Arabia’s profile as a sporting nation.”
Al-Husseini said: “The resounding success of this year’s Riyadh Marathon stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the SFA towards fostering inclusivity and vitality within our nation.
“The remarkable figure of 36 percent female participation underscores our concerted efforts to empower women through sports, and help to realize the ambitious goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
“It’s truly gratifying to see female athletes celebrated and rewarded alongside their male counterparts, symbolizing a pivotal shift towards gender equality.
“This milestone achievement not only reaffirms the transformative influence of sports in Saudi Arabia but also heralds a brighter, healthier future for our society.”
The event was supported by a range of leading entities, including presenting partner Saudi Awwal Bank, and headline sponsors ROSHN, ASICS, PepsiCo, Genesis, and Al Arabiya. The event was also backed by JPMorgan, Hisamitsu, Activia, L’Oreal, GSK, CALO, Kudu, Delta Sports, and MDLBeast.
In line with the SFA’s goals, structured by Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life Program objectives, the marathon brought thousands together to celebrate physical activity in the country, and promoted fitness as a key aspect of Saudi Arabia’s social fabric.