Egyptian Mom Finishes Tokyo Marathon to Complete 6-Race Set of World Majors

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Amany Khalil holds up an Egyptian flag after finishing the Tokyo Marathon in Chiyoda Ward on Sunday.

Amany Khalil hardly stood out among the 11,000 non-Japanese runners who took part in Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon.

But for the 56-year-old Egyptian mother of two, completing the race, which returned to pre-pandemic levels with a total field of about 38,000, also earned her a place in a unique group of runners who had completed all of the world’s six major marathons.

Khalil held up an Egyptian flag as she crossed the finish line in front of Tokyo Station in just over four hours.

After the race, she said she wanted to show that if you don’t give up, “Your dreams can come true.”

A native of Cairo, Khalil started running marathons in the United States where her husband had gone to study. She wanted to continue after returning to Egypt in 1999, but at that time it was still rare for women to compete in sports.

She said that when she went out jogging near her home, people would often look at her curiously. But she kept at it, and those around her eventually began to show understanding. Today, female joggers are a common sight in Cairo.

In 2016, Khalil participated in an Ironman triathlon race, a demanding test of endurance that includes running a full marathon.

The following year, she began her quest to run the six races designated as World Marathon Majors, starting with the Boston Marathon. After that, she ran in Berlin in 2018, Chicago in 2019, and London and New York last year, leaving only Tokyo on the list to complete the “six stars.”

On Sunday, Khalil fought through a painful knee to complete the race and earn that sixth and final finisher’s medal.

She said she was encouraged by many Japanese people who cheered her on along the course.

Khalil, who gives lectures in Egypt and the United States, urged women to get active and find a challenge.

“There are many women in the world are still forced to sacrifice themselves for their families and people around them,” she said, adding that women should keep wanting to test themselves, including through sports.