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Sprinting for Gaza

Sprinting for Gaza

Issue 58 July 2009

At the start of this summer, over a thousand runners pledged their time and energy to setting a new world record and raising money for the children of Gaza.

 

A spectacular new world record was set at the Mile End Stadium in East London on 23rd May. 1,675 participants took part in a relay for Guinness Book of Records, earning the official title of “The most people running 100 metres in a 12-hour relay”. Only 300 runners were needed to set the record but 1,300 people signed up for the cause, exceeding all expectations.

The event, called Gaza 100, was organised by IF charity. Participants were asked to run 100 metres, raise £100, and give 100%. It was a collective initiative, with brand ambassadors helping to build momentum before the event. Strong advertising and live coverage on Islam channel played a key role to raising awareness and getting commitment.

If managed to raise £60,000 – but with money still coming in this figure is expected to rise. All funds went to Save the Children’s Gaza Appeal, which aims to provide humanitarian aid for children in the occupied territory. Neither IF Charity nor Save the Children took an administration fee for the event, which was superbly organised by a team of dedicated volunteers. This team ran the call centres, the registration desk, and did everything to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible. Politicians and celebrities joined nearly 2000 people who came from across the UK to take part in the world record bid and to show their support. Jim Fitzpatrick MP, opened the event by being the first runner to start the relay at 12pm, followed by Baroness Pola Uddin. Jeremy Corbyn MP also took part in the event, along with the Deputy Leader for Tower Hamlets, Josh Peck.

Former participants from the hit TV show, The Apprentice - Tre Azam, Ghazal Asif and Syed Ahmed- also took part in the relay. After his run, Tre said “This was a fantastic way of coming together as a community in a peaceful way, to highlight a really worthy cause.”

The Guinness World Records adjudicators were impressed by the idea, praising the event:”very well organised, all for a good cause and a lot of people turned up for a fun event.”

Rizwan Khaliq, CEO of IF Charity, said the event marked a significant and historical achievement. “A huge amount of money has been raised to go towards providing education and health care for the many children in Gaza who have lost their homes and loved ones. The run was a huge challenge, and to achieve this world record right here in the heart of London’s East End where, in four years time, we will host the biggest sporting event in the world – The 2012 Games – is a fantastic accomplishment for London and the UK.”

The event showed how many people are keen to support and fundraise for the children of Gaza, and how it was possible to make a difference in a fun way. Supporters and participants alike made the event a success, and live broadcast from the stadium ensured a steady stream of participants; inspiring some viewers to leave their sitting rooms and slip on their trainers to join in the ground-breaking record. Non-Muslim families joined in too, as well as a dozen members from the group Jews for Justice for Palestine. An emel contingent also took part and raised money for the cause.

As well as the main relay, which was held from noon to midnight, the family orientated event included a Gaza 100 football cup tournament, hosted by the London Tigers. At this time, the track became a ladies-only event. Other attractions included a youth stage with a range of artists and comedians performing live; including Abdullah Rolle, Mecca 2 Medina, Khaleel Muhammed and Jeff Mirza. Food stalls and children’s entertainment all made for a fun-filled family day out. The unique event brought the Muslim community together but more importantly, by achieving a Guinness World Record in the name of the children of Gaza, put the issue back on the agenda for the world to take notice and remember.

 

Photography by Twisted Studios




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