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Of all the countries where you could go for a run or a hike in the Middle East, Lebanon is probably the most beautiful, with a diverse landscape encompassing everything from mountains and waterfalls to forests. This is why Maxime Chaya – the first Lebanese person to climb Mt. Everest – launched his latest venture, Ultra Trail des Cedres. “Why would you run on tarmac when you can run on beautiful trails, and why would you run on roads when you can run through Cedar reserves?” Chaya told the Daily Mail.

The inaugural event of the ultra running trail had 150 participants who ran a distance of either 25, 45, or 75 kilometers. They got to run amidst the wonderful paths of the Cedar reserves, with different slopes and stretches along the way. “Up among the Cedars, it’s a higher altitude than the cities so the air’s a lot cooler, and they’re just such magnificent trees; they’re so old; they are Lebanon!" Chaya added.

The run along the trail was also with a certain mindset towards the environment, leaving no trace of any waste. Plastic bottles were banned, and everyone had an environmentally-conscious attitude towards the run. The friendly vibes extended beyond the environment, and that's something many of the runners commented on. You'd find Chaya waiting at the finish line to greet incoming participants, and runners would wait for each other to complete the last stretch together, after which they'd also come together to greet people still coming in to the finish line.

Things were still competitive, though; Jordanian Mohammad al-Nawasi won first place for the 75-kilometer race. “The trail was hard,” he says. “I had to slow my pace down to be able to cover the distance, so I’m really happy to win.” And he had advice to offer people who want to get into ultra running: “You have to be patient with yourself and make sure you carry enough energy bars!”

The trail's first ultra run was quite successful, and Chaya hopes he can use it to promote this type of adventure in Lebanon. “We want everyone who can to go Ultra!" he concludes.

Photos via Maxime Chaya

Source: Daily Star