Casablanca Women's Run - 2008 start (© Sean Wallace-Jones)
Ethiopian athletes dominated the 2008 edition of the annual 10km road race for women - IAAF Silver Label - which was held today in Casablanca (18).
The race is organised by the Moroccan Association Sport and Development, chaired by Nawal El Moutawakel, IAAF Council and IOC Member, an organisation whose Honorary President is HRH the Princess Lalla Meryem, older sister of the King of Morocco, HRH Mohammed VI.
Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado succeeded last year’s champion Zhor El Kamch of Morocco, winning in 33:58, ahead of compatriots Aboudou Gelan (34:03) and Emebet Lencho (34:04). Moroccans filled the next three places - Moukim Rkia was fourth (34:10), and Samira Raif, 34, a veteran of the Moroccan team was fifth (34:17). The next runner, El Bahjaoui Hanan, finished in a distant 36:17.
The passion for this annual sports event continues unabated with more than 26,000 women participating, aged from 15 to 75 years and from all social classes. This mass of humanity congregated together for the start of the 10km in the heart of Casablanca, in the city’s famous Place Mohammed V, in an atmosphere of joy and friendship, a beautiful promotion for Moroccan womanhood and a symbol of its emancipation.
The race which was transmitted live on the 2nd Moroccan television channel (satellite) also saw some members of the Moroccan government participate in particular the Minister for Social Development, Nouzha Squalli, who had also taken part in this race a few years ago.
‘To run for the pleasure’ is the motto for this Casablanca women’s race whose main objective is to promote sport and the general social development of women, especially for girls from rural areas.
"I would like year by year to improve the management of this project which has became a national project, which belongs neither to Nawal, nor to the city of Casablanca,” declared Nawal El Moutawakel. “To see women from over 30 countries participating in the run pleases me. This figure shows that Casablanca has become not only a tourist destination but also a sporting destination.”
An IAAF Silver Label Road Race since the start of the year, the Casablanca women’s run has succeeded in transmitting to the Moroccan women the taste for sport and has beautifully demonstrated a spirit of female solidarity.
As IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a message to the organisers, “this race is an ideal occasion to point out the importance of taking part in sport or any physical activity to all humans whether they be young or not so young, man or woman, as it contributes at the same time to their wellbeing and integration into society.”
El Moutawakel who is the Moroccan Minister for Youth and Sports, always remembers with great affection the very first event in 1993, when some hundreds of women decided ‘to run for the pleasure’, a little idea which has now evolved into a great annual sporting occasion with a planetary dimension.
Several sporting and political personalities and celebrities have attended this splendid race in past years including Prince Albert of Monaco, IAAF President Lamine Diack, World and Olympic champions Michael Johnson and Edwin Moses, F1’s Emerson Fittipaldi etc….
Mohammed Benchrif for the IAAF
1. Firehiwot Dado (ETH) 33:58
2. Aboudou Gelan (ETH) 34:03
3. Emebet Bacha Lencho (ETH) 34:04
4. Moukim Rkia (MAR) 34:10
5- Samira Raif (MAR) 34:17