Arif Kazi plans to compete in Atlanta’s annual Peachtree Road Race on Independence Day, running 6.2 miles amid temperatures as high as eighty degrees alongside 60,000 other runners.
Unlike most of his fellow runners, Kazi will do so without eating a bite of food or drinking a sip of water.
“There are several reasons why this race is important to me,” Arif said. “First I feel running Peachtree Road Race is something Patriotic and is the best way any athlete can celebrate the Independence of their nation with 60 thousand other Americans.”
Patriotism is only part of the reason Arif decided to join the race.
“At the same time I want to be able to fast for Ramadan as part of my Islamic faith,” Arif said. “By running this race it will prove that you can be Patriotic for the nation you love and keeping your faith intact. [T]here are other runners that either give up fasting to run the race or skip the race to keep their fast. If I can motivate at least one person to run this race and while keeping fast I have accomplished my goal.”
Arif also hopes his participation will inspire a group of Muslim runners to join the 2016 Peachtree Road Race.
Kazi is preparing for this year’s race by eating and drinking a sufficient amount before dawn on Saturday.
“I started training a few weeks before Ramadan started by running 'Fasted Run,' which is waking up in the morning and running on an empty stomach,” Arif said. “Nutrition is important so I drink a lot of fluids for Iftar and Suhoor (at sunset and dawn). I also stay away from traditional fried foods and carbs and eat a lot of good protein and healthy fats like yogurt and Avocado.”
Although this is the first time Arif has run such a distance while fasting, he is an experienced athlete.
“I started running summer of 2008 with a goal in mind to run a marathon one day, which I accomplished by running the 2012 Publix Georgia Marathon,” Arif said. “In between I have set up a private Facebook group called 'Run Away Junkies' and had several of my friend join. Together we are 20+ members and we all completed anywhere between 10K to Marathon.”
The group has expanded to focus on fitness and nutrition, not just running, Arif said.
“We inspire and motivate each other to keep exercising and eating healthy,” he said. “I ran a couple of 5Ks, four 10Ks (all Peachtree Road Races from 2010-2013), and one Marathon. I run 7-10 miles per week as a hobby and joy for running.”
Atlanta’s 11Alive News highlighted Kazi’s story in a statewide broadcast titled “Runner Puts Faith to the Test.” The four-minute story included footage of Kazi praying in congregation at Hamza Islamic Center in Alpharetta.
“Talk about faith,” an 11Alive anchor said after the broadcast. “My, my my, yes, what a story. We are pulling for you.”
Tweet this article out
Like AtlantaMuslim.com on Facebook
Free Weekly Emails