Anchor Muhammad Junaid made the country proud when he became the first ever Pakistani journalist to participate in the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon, a feat he completed in a week.
In the Boston Marathon, held on April 17 in Eastern Massachusetts, Junaid completed the run in 3 hours, 36 min and 38 seconds. He participated along side other Pakistani-Americans like Salman Khan, Hamid Butt, Prem Kumar, Aamad Butt and Shariq Samad. Dr Salman & Hamid Butt are Abbott 6 Start Finishers.
Whereas in the London Marathon, which Junaid finished in 3 hours, 21 minutes and 38 seconds, he ran alongside others Pakistani or Pakistani origin marathons runners. Sadiq Shah, Faisal Shafi, Semeena Khan, Danish Raza, Prem Kumar, Farrukh Sadiq, Dr Jehanzeb Mughal, Danish Elahe, Imran Aleem & Ammar Mumtaz were also among them.
Saqid Shah, a Quetta born and currently a Karachi resident made history at the London Marathon by completing the race in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 20 seconds, becoming the fastest Pakistani runner in London Marathon. He appeared on the Geo News show ‘Geo Pakistan’, along with Muhammad Junaid.
The Current reached out to Junaid to chat about his recent accomplishments, and how running become one of his favorite hobbies, and the Geo News anchor gave us some interesting insights.
Q. You mentioned in your bio that you previously participated in the Boston Marathon. Is running your passion?
Junaid: I started more organised and focused running a few years ago and ran marathons in Karachi and Istanbul. Women and men of the running community realised that the number of Pakistanis in International marathons is very limited and we decided to train to run them. Every marathon has its own value but running Boston marathon can be any runner’s biggest dream. I collaborated with Pakistani Americans & partnered with South Asian Circle of Hopkinton through Hopkinton Board in Massachusetts to run Boston Marathon and open paths for more South Asians in future. It’s an achievement for South Asians in USA and Pakistanis here.
Q. Winning this race seems like an impossible task, so how did you train for this marathon? Especially considering that you’re a Karachi food lover.
Junaid: The goal is to finish the marathon in a good time, preferably faster than your previous time, for any marathon runner 70 KM per week is considered a standard mileage. Per week can vary for everyone, but yes you have got be careful with food. Protein is most important in that because it helps make and repair cells, which are critical for growth and development. So yes chicken, yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese, seafood, nut butters and then good carbs like wholegrain items, sweet potato, brown rice, and lots and lots of water, in my experience anyone involved in sports should avoid carbonated drinks because of the amount of processed sugar in them.
Q. You met politicians like MP Zarah Sultana who congratulated you for your prestigious win! How did that feel?
Junaid: For the Boston Marathon, Pakistani-American Shahid Ahmed Khan, who is currently a member of US President Joe Biden’s prestigious President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts (PACA), Irfan Nasrullah, and the President of South Asian Circle Ruta Upalekar and her team’s role was significant in helping me prepare for the marathon. From Pakistan, it was nearly impossible without support of Geo News. London Marathon was a collaboration for me with the Pakistani-British Journalist Saima Mohsin to raise funds for Scope, a UK charity working mainly for people with disabilities and facing cost of living crises. In that collaboration, we met British Pakistani MPs Naz Shah and Zarah Sultana, who are an inspiration for many and they assured us of their support to work in order to send more Pakistanis of all genders in world sports specially London Marathon.
Q. These initiatives are wonderful but sadly such things have not taken place in Pakistan. Should Pakistani politicians also start setting up running marathons, now that petrol prices are soaring and we’re looking for cheaper ways to travel?
Junaid: Pakistan does not have any international standard running events so far but Shoaib Nizami and other partners are working to organise Pakistan’s first internationally recognised marathon, Karachi Marathon, this year, which can help people here to get first hand experience of running an official marathon.
Junaid revealed that currently he is gearing up along side other Pakistani marathon runners to participate in the upcoming Berlin Marathon being held on September 24, where 50 runners from Pakistan are expected to participate.
Besides the fact that Pakistanis are underrepresented at these races, the number of women runners is even less but the running community is trying to change that. Last year, at London Marathon, Kaukab Sarwar and Hira Diwan ran in the race for TCF with the help of a friend of Pakistan, Mike Nithavrianakis. It is expected that a bigger number of women will be participating in Berlin Marathon this year. Hira Diwan, who is a British Pakistani, has run four world major marathons including New York & Chicago.
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