Kedami, running for a cause — his daughter’s smile

Athletes run for a variety of reasons. Some for health and fitness, some for camaraderie and friendship and some for the sense of self-worth high achievement brings.

For Lebanon’s Ali Kedami, it’s a cause. The ultrarunner’s daughter, Saria, developed epilepsy as a five-year-old and since then the 60-year-old has been running for her. Now, in the 17th year of his running career, the undying cause brought him to the city over the weekend for the IAU 24 Hour Asia and Oceania Championship.

“When my daughter was five, she was not able to walk,” Kedami says, on the sidelines of the event. “At that point I decided to run for her. After a few months she started walking, and then she wanted to run [as well]. Now she is 22, but still has some problems. But she is better.

Positive vibes

“Sport helped me, and helped my daughter. It gave me the opportunity to be here and represent my country. It helps me meet people from many countries. In India everybody has a smile. They give me positive vibrations. This is why I like sport.”

Kedami’s is a multi-faceted personality. He is also an artistic metal worker and a painter. But running is what gives him a sense of purpose. He has successfully completed the Oman UTMB, one of the toughest races in the world, covering 137km over 8,000m of altitude in less than 44 hours, and finished the difficult Lebanon Mountain Trail — a 460km route — in the fastest known time of six days 12 hours and 15 minutes.

“I run a lot in Lebanon for charities and NGOs. My last run back home, I ran three days and three nights without sleeping — 308km in three days. And every single time I run for my daughter.”

All of this is doubly difficult because Kedami lives alone in Lebanon, away from his wife and daughter who are in France in the hope of building a better future.

Tough times

“It is difficult staying apart. But the goal is more important than our situations — to have something for my daughter.

“My job in Lebanon is down because of the economic situation. People don’t think about [having] artistic metal work at home [in these times]. I am more of a painter now. But my spirit is artistic, metal or pencil. And more than anything, I am proud to be a father to my daughter,” he says, his eyes welling up.

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