For those of you perhaps too young to remember (or too old to remember anything), in 2002 President Bush referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil.” With Saddam’s regime gone, I guess we’re down to two, and by strange coincidence both of them held a marathon within 48 hours of each other.
The marathon in Teheran made the news because the government would not allow female runners on the same route as the men. The women were also required to wear hijab and photographers were not allowed to take pictures of them.
It occurred to me that while running one or the other of these races would be enough of a conversation starter, running both on the same weekend would raise you to social media godhood.
Who’s up for it? The first runner to complete the Axis of Evil Challenge will be featured on this very page. If that’s not enough to get you to visit two totalitarian countries in two days, I don’t know what is.
That’s the name of the race being billed as the first marathon of Iran, to be held in April 2016. You wouldn’t expect a witticism from that country, nor would you expect an embrace of the origins of the marathon, which after all began with the defeat of the Persian army.
But the organizers seem determined to use the race to showcase the country’s history. The route runs from Shiraz to Persepolis and is endorsed by the authorities.
Let’s not get too excited, though. The race is limited to 400 male runners “because of local regulations.”