Air chief enjoys key moments of 42.2km high altitude marathon

  • CEO Aziz Boolani says adventure diplomacy provides a platform to young talent in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, who is also the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Ski Federation, attended the award ceremony for the first PAF-Serena Hotels Karakoram Marathon 2018, hosted by the Serena Hotels.

A brief video compilation of the key moments of the high altitude marathon was shown. Naltar, the stunning valley in Gilgit district situated at over 11,300 feet above sea level, was the location for the high-altitude full marathon (42.2km) and half-marathon (21.1km). The compilation will be followed by a documentary of the event showcasing the entire marathon experience.

“It gives me great pleasure to be among world-renowned athletes from a different part of the globe. The participation of the world record holders, men and women of different age brackets, from around the globe made this event even more significant. I am grateful to the international athletes from 24 friendly countries who have participated in this event which took place in one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere in the world,” said Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan.

“I hope you have enjoyed the picturesque northern areas of Pakistan and will carry fond memories of your stay with us,” he said. The air chief presented medals and trophies to the first, second and third place male and female winners for both the 42km and 21km marathon.

“I was touched by the glimpses of the marathon that we all shared. This country provides beautiful spaces, scenic views and hospitable people, and we must appreciate the immense contribution of the Pakistan Air Force in taking this initiative to project the right image of Pakistan,” said Aziz Boolani, CEO of the Serena Hotels.

About 32 foreigners, 40 PAF athletes, 30 runners from Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts, 18 locals and seven from other parts of the country participated in the marathon along with the marathon globetrotters from 24 countries. Many of the runners have broken world records and won accolades globally.

“The 32 foreign athletes will be ambassadors of Pakistan. One of the best aspects was that the youngest participant was 10-year-old and the oldest was 80 years young. Serena entered into this form of diplomacy to provide a platform to the young talent in Pakistan that needed handholding and encouragement to excel,” Boolani sad.

“Our association began some five years ago with squash, and since then we have worked together to promote skiing and now this marathon and over the years we have brought an increasing number of foreign sportspeople and athletes to Pakistan,” he said. Serena Hotels sponsored the event as part of its adventure diplomacy initiative that encourages human engagement with the Nature in ways that test physical prowess, endurance and commitment.

In 42km race, Aslam Khan from Ghizar clinched the 1st position; whereas the local sensation Ishaq Khan remained runner up. Third on the podium was Ubaidur Rehman, hailing from Gilgit. In the female category, the foreigners dominated the race and won the first three coveted positions. Caroline Drew from UK was the first to complete the race; while Canadian Heather Lee got the second position.

The Hungarian Edit Kiss finished third in the race. In the 21km race, Shahid Ali got the first position; whereas, Adnan Khan and Nazar Shah won the second and third spots respectively. In the same category for females, Nadia Rahim outpaced her rivals while Kokab Sarwar and Sobia Ali trailed behind at second and third position.