Iran's Human Rights Takes Another Hit By Banning Women From Running In Its First Ever International Marathon

11 +

Tehran, Iran--The "I Run Iran" Marathon was Iran’s first marathon to welcome international runners, except for women who were not permitted to compete for cultural and religious reasons; reasons that much of the civilized world is puzzled about.

The event, hosted this past Saturday by Iran Silk Road, a nationwide travel agency, saw 250 runners participate, including runners from 26+ countries like Sweden, Britain, Germany and archrival, the United States. Yet, the marathon’s inclusiveness did not extend to international women (population of 3.4 billion worldwide), who were banned from competing. Dutch race founder Sebastien Straten said, ‘Iran, as you might know, has its own religious traditions and customs. Local (religious) authorities are not yet acquainted with the concept of public (female) running. So we invite all men to participate and show how sport can unite.’

When pressed as to why international women were not permitted to run, contestant Abdul Maleki from neighboring Iraq said, “Why would a woman travel all the way to Shiraz, Iran to run in a marathon? They have kids and families to take care of.” He voiced unequivocal support for the ban, citing that a woman has no need to learn how to run and should tend to family needs rather than recreational activities. 

Yet, despite the ban, two non-Iranian women unofficially completed the marathon, according to Bahar Shoghi, an Agence France-Presse reporter based in Tehran, Iran’s capital city.

While the race was an overall success, the controversy was not limited to the ban of international female runners. The Government of Canada website suggested avoiding all travel to Iran, citing the closure of the Canadian embassy, “heightened regional tensions”, and "a possible American drone strike".

Preliminary results of Saturday’s race can be found below:

1. Farzollah Rostami (Iran) – 2:432.

2. Mahmud Faraji (Iran) – 2:483.

3. Abdulrahman Mirzayi (Iran) – 2:56

Photos from the event...

Along with water stops, Persian rugs were made available to runners who wished to stop & pray (source: iruniran)

The media corps was out in full force

The start of the race was as expected, a sausage fest

Fans look on, awaiting the runners (source: Instagram)

Fearful of an American drone strike, an Iranian-Canadian runner drapes himself in the American flag