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Wed 12 Aug 2020 03:14 PM

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Saudi sports chief Prince Khaled hails para-athlete participation in landmark virtual marathon event

10-day event draws huge crowds to walk or run a combined distance of 45,000km

Saudi sports chief Prince Khaled hails para-athlete participation in landmark virtual marathon event

SFA President, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud.

A 10-day virtual marathon organised by Saudi Arabia’s Sports for All Federation (SFA) has seen thousands of participants run or walk a combined distance of nearly 45,000 kilometres in a major boost to the kingdom’s efforts to encourage its population to be more active.

The inaugural Step Together initiative saw over 2,600 people register, alongside nearly 30 para-athletes in what was the SFA’s first event following the lifting of lockdown restrictions in Saudi Arabia.

“We were thrilled to see such high registration numbers for our first Step Together event,” said SFA President, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, in a press statement. “Of particular importance to us was the diversity of participants for the first in the walk-run series.

“We actively recruited all ages and all abilities for this event and are delighted that they made it their own. It truly was Sports for All as we had many children and seniors take part, and we were proud to have a number of disabled competitors.”

Taking place between 17-26 July, the event was open to all ages and abilities, with both individuals and teams invited to take part in either a virtual 42-kilometre full marathon or a 21-kilometre half marathon within a specific timeframe. Children under the age of 15 were challenged to complete kilometres during the same period.

Entrants in the virtual marathon used digital fitness trackers to record and upload data to the SFA’s online platform, which posted ongoing progress and results on its public leaderboard.

Women and girls made up almost a third of participants, with entries drawn from a wide range of nationalities based not only in12 provinces across Saudi Arabia but also neighbouring countries, including the UAE, Oman and Bahrain.

The event was a hit with participants, with 98 percent saying it was a good initiative to keep the community together, and 98% also saying they would likely take part in future events.

Step Together was held under the banner of the Quality of Life programme, which seeks to contribute to the kingdom’s Vision 2030 by maintaining and growing physical activity levels across Saudi Arabia during the summer months.

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