Although temperatures climbed to 24°C degrees in central London on Sunday, all eight members of Muslim Aid’s first-ever team finished the London Virgin marathon. The young men and women, who joined 40,000 marathon runners, each ran with a target to raise £5,000 to support the charity’s work with communities living in dire conditions within Myanmar. Muslim Aid is one of the few humanitarian charities permitted by the authorities to work inside the country.
Only one member of the team had ever run a marathon before. Sadak Mirza, 30 from Birmingham, who manages Muslim Aid’s volunteers’ programme ‘Boots On’ had previously completed three marathons as well as several half marathons around the world.
Sadak took up running to inspire other Muslim women to run and help break down stereotypes. Although temperatures soared in central London on Sunday, Sadak wore her hijab (headscarf) and long clothing. Sadak had just returned from Lebanon and Pakistan where she led volunteer aid deployment trips and wasn’t feeling in good shape.
Talking to BBC London Live’s Eddie Nestor yesterday Sadak said: “I just about made it! I started on a high but about 10 miles in my back gave way and my knees gave in. I was bawling my eyes out! I’ve done the LA marathon, Berlin and Istanbul but nothing compares to the amazing crowd in London. Everyone was so supportive – I felt so much love and kindness at the end – and it reminded me why I wanted to run in the first place.”
To encourage the runners on their journey of training and fundraising, Muslim Aid’s video department made a short comedy video for Facebook: Muslim Aid’s ‘On the Run’ for Myanmar! The film is a parody of Snatch, the 2000 British humorous crime film by Guy Ritchie. Foredul Islam, Major Events and Fundraising Manager at Muslim Aid said: “They all did so well; we’re really proud of them! It’s no easy feat and it was such a hot day. But none of them gave up and they’ve done an amazing job to help the desperate humanitarian crisis within Myanmar. The funds raised will go to provide shelter, food and education for the people in Myanmar.”