Pakistan’s biggest-ever contingent gears up for Berlin Marathon 2023

The prestigious marathon will be held on September 24

By Muhammad Junaid, Muneeb Farrukh and Ali Ahmed
September 21, 2023
The Berlin Marathon is renowned as one of the fastest marathons globally. - BMW Berlin Marathon

KARACHI: Running a marathon is no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination but an ever-increasing group of Pakistanis have taken it upon themselves to make their country proud in this prestigious field.

While the world waits with bated breath to see whether Eliud Kipchoge can become the only runner to win the Berlin Marathon five times, Pakistan’s largest-ever contingent in a World Marathon Major event will also look to etch their names in the annals of history.

More than 60 Pakistanis are preparing to participate in the Berlin Marathon on September 24, which includes 14 female marathon runners, where they will cover a distance of 42.195 kilometers.

While these marathoners might not get the same attention as cricketers in Pakistan but that doesn’t deter them from achieving their goals.

The Berlin Marathon is renowned as one of the fastest marathons globally, with Kenyan runner Kipchoge setting a world record in 2022 by completing the marathon in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 9 seconds. 

Among the participants, 38 are traveling from Pakistan, while several are joining from UAE, USA, Germany, Austria, UK, and Australia. 

List of Pakistani participants in Berlin Marathon. - Geo Super 

Notable participants include Muhammad Sajjad, a national athlete, who has previously represented Pakistan in Nepal and Bangladesh and completed the Dhaka Marathon in 2 hours and 42 minutes 41 seconds. Sajjad is now aiming for a new record in his first World Major.

Another standout is Sadiq Shah, the fastest Pakistani runner in the history of the London Marathon, who is competing in Berlin with the goal of surpassing his own marathon time of 2 hours, 55 minutes, and 20 seconds.

Sadiq Shah is the fastest Pakistan runner at the London Marathon. 

Meanwhile, Faisal Shafi is returning for his second Berlin Marathon and is on a path to becoming an Abbott 6 Star finisher next year. Faisal and Sadiq Shah also qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2024.

Along with Faisal Shafi, Muhammad Sajjad, Sadiq Shah, Amin Mukaty and Abdul Rehman are also aiming for new records for Pakistan in the Berlin Marathon.

Women defying the limits

A significant highlight of Pakistan's participation in this event is the presence of 14 Pakistani female runners from diverse backgrounds. These women are breaking barriers and pushing their limits.

Hira Diwan, a Pakistani British corporate banker and marathon runner, has already completed marathons in Chicago, New York, Paris and Chester, in addition to four London Marathons. The Berlin Marathon will mark her 10th full marathon. 

Uzma Abid, a dedicated crossfitter and experienced fitness trainer, brings a remarkable level of physical fitness and discipline to the Berlin Marathon. Notably, she is also a mother of two children, highlighting the incredible balance she has struck between her roles as a parent and a passionate athlete. Uzma Abid's commitment to running marathons was evident in her participation in the Istanbul Marathon in 2021, where she showcased her endurance and determination on a global stage.

Uzma Abid with her husband Abdul Samee. 

On the other hand, Kaukab Sarwar is a driven full-time corporate executive who juggles her professional responsibilities with her passion for long-distance running. As the mother of a 13-year-old, Kaukab's journey in marathon running is particularly inspiring. Berlin marks her third World Marathon Major, a testament to her dedication and perseverance. Notably, she has set her sights on the Chicago Marathon, demonstrating her ambition to conquer new challenges and achieve remarkable milestones in the world of long-distance running.

Kaukab Sarwar is a full-time corporate executive and mother of a 13-year-old.

Additionally, Dr. Zahra Hoodbhoy, Shumaila Bukhari, Nadia Rehman, Nada Anwar, Sana Malik, Anum Jehangir and Pakistani British lawyer Shanze Shah are part of this year's Pakistani Women's group at the Berlin Marathon.

Sara Lodhi, a UAE based Pakistani athlete who ran the Tokyo marathon earlier this year, is running her first Berlin Marathon. She is brand ambassador of Spartan Arabia, the only Pakistani on the Spartan podium, and also qualified for the Boston Marathon in Munich Marathon 2022.

Dr. Rabia Naeem, an experienced Pakistani pediatrician based in the USA, and Rohela Khan from the UK are also taking part in the event.

Another motivating aspect is couples running Berlin Marathon together. Uzma Abid ran her first marathon in Istanbul with her husband Abdul Samee, who is a telecom engineer by profession and they trained for Berlin together. 

Another husband and wife Zain Anwar and Nada Anwar got their names in Ballot last year and this will be first marathon for Nada while Zain ran New York Marathon before.

Pakistani runners ecstatic after Tokyo Marathon 2023. 

Pakistani-American Abbott Six Star finishers take part in Berlin 2023

Three Pakistani-origin Abbott Six Star finishers are attending this event, including Dr. Salman Khan, a nephrologist based in Dallas, Texas, who became the first Pakistani-origin 6 Star finisher in Tokyo earlier this year.

The list also includes Prem Kumar, a US-based Pakistani-American runner, who achieved 6 Star status earlier this year at the London Marathon and Aisha Qamar, a US-based marathon runner.

Dr Salman Khan and Prem Kumar at Boston Marathon.

Rehan Admajee from Karachi who is studying at Harvard Kennedy School of Govt & Harvard Business school is coming to Berlin Marathon aiming for a Boston qualifying time.

Muhammad Junaid, an anchorperson for Geo News, who completed the Boston and London Marathons in April this year, will be running his third World Major in Berlin and his fourth in Chicago next month. He has partnered with the British Heart Foundation UK and St. Jude Children's Cancer Hospital USA for these marathons. 

Muhammad Junaid finished Boston Marathon 2023 in 3 hours 36 minutes 38 seconds. 

Increase in number of participants from Pakistan

The credit for this significant participation of runners from Pakistan goes to local running clubs and the supportive environment created by sports organisation called 'Sports in Pakistan' which has organised special running and cycling events in Pakistan on August 14, country's independence day, and to promote Breast Cancer awareness. Its founder Shoaib Nizami has provided people a platform to participate in Duathlons in Karachi and take cycling teams world-wide to represent Pakistan.

Notable contributors include the Seaview Runners Club, co-founded by Adnan Gandhi, a fitness professional who has previously completed marathons in Chicago and London.

Seaview Runners Club.

The Wednesday Night Pacers, another Karachi-based running club, has enabled a substantial number of runners to represent Pakistan in global sporting events. Danish Raza, the founder of this club, will also be running the Berlin Marathon, along with many of his club runners, including Amin Mukaty and Abdul Rehman, who are among the fastest runners from Pakistan.

Wednesday Night Pacers.

Bilal Ehsaan, co-founder of the Islamabad Running Club, will also participate in the Berlin Marathon alongside Yawar Siddiqui, Ammar Mumtaz, and Rehman Azhar. 

Additionally, a group of enthusiastic participants is set to join the Berlin Marathon, further adding to the Pakistani representation.

Islamabad Running Club.

Triathlete Miqdad Mohammed is running his first marathon, he has done IRONMAN previously in UAE and Oman.

Ali Khurshid, Shah Faisal Khan, Abdul Samee, Ayaz Abdulla, Zain Anwar, Zohair Agha, Imran Aleem, Irfan Aleem, Ibaad Lari, Jahanzeb Sherwani, Fauzi Gharib, Ahmed Ilyas, Hassan Madni, Anis Kasmani, Adeel Paperwala, Hassan Currimbhoy, Anees Khawja, Dr. Rizwan Khawaja, Dr. Saad Usmani, Ahmer Khan, Muhammad Babar Ali, Azmat Ali, Jamal Khan, Dr. Ahmed Zubair Babar Ghias, Haseeb Usmani and Sheharyar Salam will also be joining the Berlin Marathon.

Journalist Sarah Munir is participating in the Amsterdam marathon, which will be taking place on 15th October.

Several participants will also be running the Chicago Marathon on October 8th, including Faisal Shafi who is representing Pakistan in the Abbott World Age Group Championship.

Faisal Shafi is a renowned Pakistani marathoner. 

Journalist and anchorperson Rehman Azhar will be running both the Berlin and Chicago Marathons, while Dr. Salman Khan and Prem Kumar are also returning for the Chicago Marathon.

Dr. Jehannzeb Mughal, who ran the London Marathon earlier this year to raise funds for oral cancer patients in Pakistan, will also be running the Chicago Marathon along with Danish Elahi and Noshwerwan Ali as part of a team.

Dr Jehanzeb Mughal, Danish Elahe and Nosherwan Ali. 

Meanwhile, Fahd Mukhar has run five of World Marathon Majors, New York Marathon twice and is now set to become Abbot 6 Star finisher in Chicago Marathon.

Fahd Mukhtar is all smiles during a marathon. 

Bacha Hussain, Rehman Azhar Dr Rabia Naeem, Unaiza Raza, Taha Ghafoor, Imtiaz Ahmed, Babar Ghias and Muhammad Fasih will also take part in the Chicago Marathon.

Runners in Karachi.

Their participation reflects the growing passion and dedication of Pakistani athletes on the international stage, further enriching the diverse representation from the country in this prestigious event.

Start and finish area of Berlin Marathon

Start and finish area of Berlin Marathon.

Event schedule (local time)

Sunday, September 24, 2023

08:50am: Handbiker (Elite)

08:57am: Wheelchair competitors

08:57am: Handbiker

from 09:15am: Runners (in four waves)

Cut-off times

Time limit: 6:15 hours (after passing the time measure mat)

Cut-off point at KM 33 at 3:50pm

Cut-off point at KM 38 at 4:35pm

Participants who are unable to reach one of these points by the indicated time will leave the official course and continue on the sidewalk or ride in the "broom waggon" to the finish.