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

In Iran, women and men have not been able to compete in running races together in almost four decades. On Monday, that will all change.

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. Mahsa will be running 250km over 6 days, with a long section of 70 kilometers near the end of the race. She will carry all of her food, gear and supplies on her back while she treks through temperature of up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Mahsa, an experienced climber, is new to running, but already breaking barriers on the running scene. On 9 April, as part of her training for the ISRU, Mahsa ran in the male-only I Run Iran marathon in Shiraz, Iran, starting two hours before the official start. Her brave act captured the attention of local and international media, including Runner’s World, opening up the way for more women to literally follow in her footsteps.

Mahsa will be joined in the ISRU by Free to Run founder, Stephanie Case, Ambassador Jenny Davis, and Iranian climber Alireza, who has actively supported women’s participation in sports in Iran. All four runners will be meeting for the first time, sharing experiences, ideas and cultures over hundreds of kilometers.

This event will undoubtedly make history as Mahsa and the Free to Run team progress across the sand towards the finish line.  To follow their journey, please like our facebook page and show your support by commenting, sharing, or donating to support groundbreaking efforts like these!

Race entries for Mahsa and Alireza have been generously provided by the Extreme Races Organization. Training plans and gear have been provided by Free to Run.

Leah Anathan