• Nur Abukaram was disqualified from the 2019 senior high school cross country meet for wearing a hijab.
  • Since then, she has fought discrimination in sports and ran her first marathon in New York.
  • “Everyone is a runner,” says Abukaram, who races in bright colors and hijabs.

In the year It was October 2019, and Nur Abukaram felt “on top of the world.”

The 16-year-old varsity cross-country athlete won the 5K. Then her heart sank: Abukaram’s name was missing from the official list of places because she soon realized she was wearing a hijab.

Unbeknownst to 16-year-old Abukaram, the athletics association in her state is demanding exemptions from athletes who want to dress for religious functions. Her coach couldn’t provide one.

“I was humiliated, I had to escape,” Abukaram. He wrote for ESPN earlier this year. “So I went to the bathroom like I think any girl would do when she’s crying.”

But Abukhara’s urge to escape did not last long. Since then, she has been an outspoken advocate for all identity runners as a founder. live and run Fighting discrimination in sports. In October 2021her work helped change an Ohio law that disqualified her.

On Sunday, Abukaram ran the New York City Marathon — her longest run to date — as a member. Group motivation In bright colors and hijab. Now, she wants to be seen.

“Diversity is in running, and inclusion is in running because it’s a beautiful sport that anyone can take up,” Abukaram, a sophomore at Ohio State University, told Insider. “I feel like everyone is a runner.”

A post shared by Noor Abukaram (@nooralexandria).

Meeting another women’s running icon

Before training for a marathon, the longest Abukaram ran was 10 miles in high school. And that was a struggle. “I remember me and my teammates, like, crying about it,” she said.

But she moved with her parents to train in New York. MasterCard Mini 10K in New York in June with her mother. In the year The race began in 1972, the first year women were legally allowed to run in the Boston Marathon. Popular in women’s running.

This summer’s event celebrated the 50th anniversary of running and Title IV, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in activities such as school sports. “I crossed the finish line and said, ‘I can’t wait to run a race like this, and I just felt like I was in a city like New York,'” Abukaram said.

After the competition, Abukaram confronted the founder of Mini 10,000 Catherine SwitzerlandIn the year She was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 – after being stopped by a race official along the way.

A post shared by Noor Abukaram (@nooralexandria).

Talking to the now 75-year-old Swiss about running in New York was “a magical experience,” Abukaram said. I was like, “Man, I want to be like that.”

Since then, he has developed the direction of Abukaram’s training. She works up to 20 consecutive miles by mid-October.

“Instead of just running for the sake of running, I started to feel the energy of running towards something,” she said. “That’s why this whole experience has been so edifying, personal growth-wise: I’m finally finding that love again, wanting to run.”

Experiment with athletic hijab

For Abukaram, the training also includes testing athletic hijabs, just as other athletes test fuel and hydration.

Over the summer, Abukaram learned the hard way that lightweight hijabs are essential. “Sometimes the sports hijab gets dirty and then I have to run normally and I feel suffocated,” she said.

Nur Abukaram and her mother in MasterCard Mini 10K in June 2022.

In high school athletics, “I still felt lonely a lot of the time,” Abukaram said. “I was the only hijabi athlete on the team. I was the only hijabi athlete in the state.”

By Nur Abukaram

As a fashion student, she learned that certain fabrics, such as nylon blends, are not for her and that everyone’s preferences are different. “I’m a big fan of look good, play good,” Abukaram said.

That’s why she appreciates that more brands are making modest athletic wear, even though there still needs to be visibility of the hijab in sports, she says. She is doing her part by donating sports hijabs to underprivileged young Muslim athletes at Noor Run.

“I want to show other young Muslim athletes that they are not alone and that we are on their team,” she said.

To do that – and to inspire others, Muslim or not – Abukaram plans to wear something bright during the marathon Sunday.

“Whenever I do something that I feel represents Islam, I like to wear a lot of colors so that I feel very confident, very approachable and my best,” she says. “Just by wearing bright colors, I feel like I can unconsciously influence the emotions of the people around me.”

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