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Running While Fasting: Muslim Americans Run the Peachtree Road Race

Running While Fasting: Muslim Americans Run the Peachtree Road Race

Author Aisha Davis by

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Arif Kazi

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The Peachtree road race is a 10K race that is ran in Atlanta from Lenox Mall to Piedmont Park every year.

This year, the race took place on Monday, July 4th. There were quite a few Muslims running the race and, this being the Muslim holy month of fasting, we caught up with some of them so they could share their experience. Those from the Atlanta Muslim Community present in the race included Amir Ali, Aaron Goodson, Nura Goodson, Arif Kazi, Amr Omar, Jameel Shakir, Aly El-Sayed, Allegra El-Sayed, Viveca Callahan, Mohsin Bashir, Laila Kashlan, Habib Dim Ashogbon, Isa Sanchez, Caleb Derosa.

Many of the participants that we spoke with were first time runners, but there were quite a few who had run the race many times before. Viveca Callahan was one such runner, and has been participating every year since 2003. Amir Ali said this race was very special to him because of the size of the race and also because it is an Atlanta tradition. Habib Dim Ashogbon added, “this race is special to me because it is happening in the month of Ramadan, one of the profound pillars of my faith. Also, I’ve never raced in it before.” Arif Kazi, who has run the race 6 times (twice while fasting) was asked how he prepared. He informed us, “the last two months I practiced by running a fasted run, in which one runs in the morning on an empty stomach, and breaks fast once the run is complete. Moreover, the last few weeks leading up to the race, I ran twice a week while fasting.”

Other participants stated that they trained as normal leading up the race and didn’t seem at all intimidated about running the race while fasting. All runners made sure to drink plenty of water the night before and during the predawn meal eaten before beginning the fast.

Runners were also asked what motivated them to run the race during the month of Ramadan. Some stated that the opportunity to push themselves during this holy month was motivation enough. Others, such as Harun Goodson, thought of loved ones to draw motivation. “My wife was my main motivating factor because she is an avid runner and this will be the last Peachtree Road Race we can participate in during Ramadan for the next 33 years,” stated Goodson.

Despite the difficulties of running during Ramadan, the response from those who participated was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is very much looking forward to participating in the race again next year. Below are additional comments from some Atlanta Muslim participants of the Peachtree Road Race:

“InshAllah I plan to do this race as long as Allah provides me the health to do so year after year. My goal is to complete this race again in 2047 when I will be 67!”
-Arif Kazi

“I will definitely run this race again, but most likely not while fasting. Fasting brought an entire element that was difficult to handle. Alhamdulillah Allah is merciful.” -Amr Ali

“What does it mean to be Muslim American? I represent Muslims who live in the US and was proud to race for them and show that Muslims are part of the greater Atlanta community.” -Mohsin Bashir

“[Running the Peachtree Road Race] means being able to practice my religion freely, but also showing the world that Muslims are like everyone else. My participation in running and sports has helped to break down barriers with strangers. It is a conversation starter.” -Allegra Leigh El-Sayed

“Being proud of who I am 100%, and adding more to what makes America great!” -Caleb DeRosa

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