It was 9:00 in the morning when the starting shot was heard and a human wave of runners started from the town of Marathon, in order to cover a distance of 42 km to the Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens. Among them was Farhad, a 46-year-old migrant from Iran, who has been dreaming to cross the finish line of the Athens Authentic Marathon for quite some time.
He had been training alone and tirelessly, day after day, showing true devotion to his goal and passion, and last Sunday he ran his first Marathon, a celebration of human spirit. IOM Greece supported the 46-year-old migrant with appropriate running gear, medical tests and special long-run nutrition, in order to prepare for and participate in the run.
Farhad begun running after he arrived in Greece. His journey was long and hard - through Turkey to Lesvos Island, then Idomeni on the border with FYROM and Elliniko in Athens. He started training alone, covering the distance from Elliniko to nearby Glyfada and back, gradually increasing the distance. When he felt strong enough, he took part in two half- marathons (20 km).
He joined the 35th Athens Marathon, on 12th November 2017, along with more than 50.000 runners from all over the world. Farhad’s determination was obvious from the very start. “I will finish”, he replied full of confidence when he was told that covering the whole distance and crossing the finish line would be demanding. And indeed, he finished 614th in 3 hours 22 minutes; exhausted, but deeply proud, with a big smile on his face.
Farhad is currently living with his son in the open accommodation center for migrants and refugees of Thiva, which offers safe and dignified living conditions, thanks to the support of the European Commission’s Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations Office.