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Local and foreign participants attend the first international Tehran marathon at Azadi Square in the Iranian capital on April 7, 2017.

Baby steps

Women forced to run indoors for Tehran’s ‘first international marathon’

April 8, 2017

Men ran through the streets of Tehran on Friday for ‘TehRUN,’ an event being described as the Iranian capital’s “first international marathon.” Conspicuously absent from the official course were the race’s female participants, who were forced to run on an indoor track in a stadium.

3 weeks prior to the race, female participants said they were told they would not be allowed to participate in the event at all. But on Wednesday, two days before the race was set to begin, officials reversed the decision, announcing that women would be allowed to run — but only if they ran indoors and agreed to uphold a strict wardrobe requirement.

In Iran, laws not only require that men and women compete separately, but also forbid women from watching men’s sporting events in person and vice versa. In some cases, however, exceptions apply, and while men were reportedly forbidden from watching women in the stadium, women could be seen in the crowd watching the men race. Despite the restrictions, a number of women chose to register in the marathon. Approximately 600 Iranian runners signed up for the race, 156 of them women. And according to the Associated Press, “at least 160 foreign runners,” 50 of them women, registered to attend.

Sebastiaan Straten, a Nederlander who helped organize the race, said in a statement that he “did not agree” with the decision to force women to run indoors and that he was working “to find other ways to make [steps] for female running in Iran.”

Last year, 2 women managed to complete Iran’s first international marathon — despite being banned from the event.

Read the full story at ABC News and The Independent.


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