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With most of the world currently under partial or full lockdown, the resulting isolation is causing a negative effect on the health and well-being of people around the globe. In Qatar, for all the right reasons, the government has closed down shopping malls, parks, mosques, schools and recreational places. Most of the businesses are currently running on skeleton staff with majority of the staff working from home. A country which takes pride in providing some of the best sports facilities in the world, has seen its once vibrant football pitches, tennis courts, indoor arenas, cycling tracks and running paths now totally empty.
Qatar is home to plenty of sports clubs and there is no shortage of events. From the start of the season in mid-September until the end of season in June, runners, swimmers, triathletes and cyclists were regularly training and competing in various local events around the country. These events are hosted by local clubs, private organisations and various government sports bodies. 
One such company that organises regular running events in Qatar is Z Adventures. Since its inception in 2015, the company has organised more than 100 events, under the banner of ‘Qatar Running Series’, in various parks around the city. It is by far the most popular running series with around 400 participants taking part in every event. Their races always sell out way in advance. 
Considering the current scenario, with all their upcoming races cancelled, the company came up with a novel idea to keep the athletes active, while maintaining social distancing. 
The company launched a new running challenge called the ‘Self-Isolator-Circuit’. It’s a free event that is open to everyone who wishes to keep themselves active. All that is required of runners is to complete a full marathon (42.2km) within one week in a socially isolated place. That includes running or walking inside their house or their back garden. Even running inside compounds or on a treadmill is fine. Upon completion, all finishers receive a certificate. 
“The idea was to raise awareness of physical distancing and staying home, while also encouraging people to stay active and boost their immune system. It just basically shows the solidarity between all the runners that we can still continue during times of crisis and to act as a motivator, just to have some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Nadia Rahim, the owner of Z Adventures, while describing the reasons behind starting the challenge. 
Nadia also completed a full marathon in her living room.
Within a few days of the launch, the challenge spread around the world via social media as runners started uploading their videos, pictures and run routes on the company’s Facebook page. Some people completed the challenge on their small balconies, some on roof tops while others ran around their living rooms and kitchens.
Polish runner and world record holder, Wojtek Machnik had his second world record attempt halted due to cancellation of marathons around the world. After completing 67 marathons in 67 countries within one year, he was attempting to become the first person in the world to run 100 marathons in 100 countries within two years. Instead, he was forced into self-quarantine in his tiny apartment in Warsaw upon his return to Poland from Yemen. Just to keep his mind active, he decided to run 42.2km around his bed on a 7.5m loop. He completed the challenge running around over 6,000 times in his flip-flops!
California-based Guinness World Record holder and paraplegic athlete, Beth Sanden, completed the marathon in a wheelchair, while her husband manned the aid station during the attempt.
Nigerian runner, Dayo Akinbode, who has completed marathons in more than 60 countries, ran a full marathon on her 10m balcony in Lagos, Nigeria. Thomas Godlewsky ran a marathon on his roof-top in Germany while Walter Tarello (Italy) completed the marathon in a 10m long hallway in his hometown.
In Qatar, plenty of runners completed the challenge in one go. Omer Farooq (from Pakistan), was booked to run the Paris Marathon on this 42nd birthday. However, when the marathon was cancelled, he ran the entire race in his 30m backyard to celebrate his birthday. Stephanie Innes, a teacher from Scotland, live streamed her marathon attempt on Facebook as she used every possible space in her apartment to complete the distance.
Qatar Airways staff, Jonathan Michelsen from South Africa, completed the challenge in his 20m living room.
The youngest competitor to run a full marathon was 13 years old, Guillanam Alinier who ran with his father, Guillaume, to finish the race in his 30m living room.
For some, running one marathon was not enough. Nasreddine Mansour from Tunisia, completed two full marathons and a half marathon during the one week challenge.
With the popularity of this event soaring, the company is now planning other challenges to ensure that runners stay fit and active during the lockdown. The next event will be the Ramadan Challenge and details will be posted on the website www.z-adventures.org.
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