Wakhan Corridor Expedition 2019

In August 2019, Free to Run took 10 participants from across Afghanistan on their first every hiking and camping expedition to the Wakhan Corridor. Over the course of 3 days, the team conquered over 36 kilometers and reached heights of 4,300 meters. For all of them, it was their first experience camping.

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Rebecca Abel
Rebranding Free to Run - the Story Behind our New Identity

When you’re working in regions of conflict, does a logo really make a difference? Back in 2014, we were lucky enough to have an agency partner who gave us a great logo to get started, at no cost. It was clean, workable and we could focus on the many opportunities and challenges that were far more important in those early days. But like an old pair of running shoes, one day we woke up and the brand simply didn’t fit anymore. Over the years, a few thousand people have proudly worn the Free to Run logo so we wanted to take a moment to explain why we’ve changed and introduce you to the talented people behind our new brand.

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run hosted its first ever Disability & Women’s Rights Symposium

In April, Free to Run hosted its first ever Disability & Women’s Rights Symposium over two days in Kabul. The symposium was attended by 70 guests who all work in the fields of disability and women’s rights. Participants ranked the symposium at an 8 out of 10. “In this event, I learned ways to motivate those with disabilities and that all human beings in any position have dreams. Their goals are also so important,” said one attendee.

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run featured in Runner's World

Runner’s World featured Hasina and Zeinab, Free to Run’s 2nd female ultramarathon team. In August 2018, they were training with Tyler Tomasello to prepare for a 250K international ultramarathon in the Gobi Desert, part of the 4 Desert Series from RacingthePlanet.

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run featured on NBC Nightly News

NBC Nightly News sent a team to cover the 2017 Marathon of Afghanistan. They interviewed Free to Run Founder, Stephanie Case, and multiple female athletes from Afghanistan who are running marathons and breaking barriers. See the full coverage.

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Leah Anathan
Afghanistan's First Iceskating Rink

In December 2016, Free to Run started a very unique project in Afghanistan. In partnership with the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan and the Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountain Areas (COAM), we facilitated the construction of the new ice skating rink, the very first one in all of Afghanistan.

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Leah Anathan
Join the Free to Run team in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon

For many runners, the New York City Marathon is at the top of the bucket list. It's the largest marathon in the world and it's hosted in one of the most unique and spectacular settings. Free to Run is proud to be an official charity partner for the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. Through our partnership, we have guaranteed paid entries for a small team of runners who are willing to fundraise for Free to Run.

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Leah Anathan
The Marathon of Afghanistan - Martin and Kubra's Story

Martin Parnell is a 60-year-old Canadian who is famous for completing 250 marathons in a single year, and raising more than $1.3 million for charities. Inspired by an article in The Guardian about the first international Marathon of Afghanistan, Martin decided to run in same event in 2016. Before the race, he met a Free to Run Ambassador named Kubra. She was hesitant to run the full marathon, but they decided to race together and this is their story, in their own words.

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run's Refugee Program - Hiking, Running and So Much More

In the summer of 2015, Free to Run created a hiking programme for refugees of war and conflict who landed in Hong Kong. The city is now the home to several thousand refugees who often live in deplorable conditions because they are not allowed to work. Their situation can lead to social isolation and desperation. Fitness activities are some of the only opportunities that refugees have to re-develop their mental and physical strength. Katy Dartford spoke to Free to Run Board Member and Refugee Programme Manager, Virginie Goethals, about how hiking and track training is improving the quality of life for some of the refugees.

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Leah Anathan
Happy Holidays to the Free to Run Community!

During this holiday season, we wanted to take a moment to thank everyone in the Free to Run community. It's been a year of great achievements by our program participants, volunteers, Ambassadors, partners, sponsors, and all of the wonderful runners who ran to support us. From the 50K Great Relay in Hong Kong to The Marathon of Afghanistan, there are countless examples of people running side-by-side to heal, to push their physical limits, to promote equality, to strengthen communities, and to provide friendship.

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Leah Anathan
Autumn Sports Week - Building Leadership through Sports

Before the Marathon of Afghanistan, Free to Run sponsored a very special event called, Autumn Sports Week. A group of young women, from multiple provinces in Afghanistan, took part in a week of educational events that was designed to develop both athletic and leadership skills. A very special team of trainers was assembled that included environmentalists, professional athletes, Free to Run Ambassadors, representatives from the UN, and more.

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Leah Anathan
Marathon of Afghanistan: A symbol of progress

As the sun started to shine on the Bamyan cliffs, runners lined up for the 42 km race kickoff. This is the only official Marathon of Afghanistan. The race was organized by the adventure company Untamed Borders and it’s the second time they’ve hosted this unique event. The race had clearly grown in size and recognition. While many of the runners were returning contenders, the number of participants grew from under 100 to over 200.

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run’s Mazar-e-Sharif race report

This August, 80 young adults participated in Free to Run’s Mazar-e-Sharif Race. Mazar-e-Sharif is the third largest city of Afghanistan and the capital of the Balkh province. 40 females and 40 males competed in either a 21k, or a full 42k marathon starting at dawn. The athletes hailed from several community groups including the Mazar Olympic Team, Skateistan, and the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. 

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run Ambassadors compete in first mixed-gender race in Iran in 38 years

From 2-9 May, Masoumeh (Mahsa) Torabi, a Free to Run Ambassador based in Iran, will be competing in the first mixed gender race in the country in 38 years. The Iranian Silk Road Ultramarathon (ISRU), organized by the Extreme Races Organization in collaboration with the Iranian government, is a multi-day stage race in the Dasht-e-Lut Desert, one of the most inhospitable climates on earth.

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Leah Anathan
Mahsa Torabi, the Iranian Katherine Switzer

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Almost 50 years later, on April 9th 2016, Masoumeh (Mahsa) Torabi followed in Kathrine’s trail-blazing footsteps by running in the first international marathon in Iran, which was only open to male entries. This is Mahsa’s account of why she ran. 

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Leah Anathan
Free to Run's Connie Schneider accompanies “Team Sahra” on 250km race in Sri Lanka

Free to Run Board Chair, Connie Schneider, was part of a group of mentors who accompanied Afghanistan’s first mixed-gender ultramarathon team in Sri Lanka. They competed in a 250 km / 155-mile, 7-day self-supported stage race in which participants had to carry all of the supplies needed for the race. To hear about Connie’s experience is nothing but inspiring — and it puts running in perspective. We caught up with Connie and asked her to describe how she got involved with this cause and what she learned from this race. 

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Leah Anathan
Introducing Mahdi from Free to Run's mixed-gender ultramarathon team

My name is Mahdi, which is an Islamic name, and my last name means ‘hopeful’. When I was a kid I used to run, but then when the security got bad I couldn’t run for  many years. I was always dreaming when I was small that maybe one day I would be in a team and have partners and friends who would be at the same level and always help me in my life. Finally, my dream came true and I started running with my friends in the mountains.

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Leah Anathan