2017 Nina Brekelmans Running Camp for Girls: Week 4 Recap

Our last and final camp day started with the girls registering for the race next Saturday, April 22. Then, Coach Ibrahim led the girls in stretches. As the girls were in a circle around him, he introduced three camp guests. First, Ms. Tamara Armoush, a Jordanian mid- and long-distance runner who has broken three Jordanian running records and who was the first-place female competitor in the 10-kilometer race on Friday, April 14, as part of the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon. Second, Ms. Georgia Cottle, a runner from Scotland who was the first-place female competitor in the 21-kilometer race at the Dead Sea on Friday, and third, Ms. Hanoia Ali, a runner on Sudan’s national long distance team. She trains in Jordan and has won the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon several times. Hanoia was also one of Nina's closest friends and training partners in Jordan! 

Coach Ibrahim explained that girls are strong and highlighted these three guests as prominent examples and role models. To emphasize this point, he shouted several times “what are girls” to which the girls responded enthusiastically “STRONG!!” He then invited each of the guests to lead a few of their favorite pre-run warm-ups. Next, Coach Ibrahim led the girls and guests on a three-kilometer run that mirrored the race course for next Saturday. The girls did a good job of running, even after some of them had to take breaks to walk in between. Finally, they wrapped up the exercise portion of the day with sets of sprints. Coach Ibrahim broke the girls up into groups of four, which allowed many girls to boast afterward about coming in first or second place. The sprints always get the girls excited about running and competing!

Our final lecture came from Ms. Farah Hashem, who is a Jordanian sprinter with the fastest time in Jordan for the 60-meter race. In addition, as part of a Jordanian team, she won third place in the 4x400-meter relay at the last West Asia Indoor Championship. She talked about being a female runner in Jordan and emphasized that being a good runner requires not just athletic training but also eating healthy and keeping up with your studies. She described her path to becoming a runner, starting as a soccer player, becoming part of a track team, and eventually winning a bronze medal at the West Asia Indoor Championship. She also highlighted the importance of her studies at the American University of Beirut, from which she graduated recently, while continuing to run seriously there. She concluded by answering the girls’ questions about her path and running. During the Q&A, she emphasized that she is as passionate about her studies as she is about running as well as how this has helped lead to her success. By the end, she had inspired the girls, their chaperones, and the other volunteers.

Before lunch (once again generously donated by Siniora Food Industries), the girls watched a video put together by Nina Brekelmans Memorial Foundation President, Ms. Mary Grace Pellegrini. The video featured different U.S. university-level runners and coaches discussing why they love running, when they started running, as well as advice for competing in a race for the first time. The girls learned that it is important to enjoy running, something that comes more easily through the friendships formed with teammates, as well as to pace themselves while running—rather than start off sprinting, which is something the girls love to do!

After lunch, Coach Ibrahim and the volunteers organized group pictures and a small ceremony to present each camper with a certificate of completion. The girls loved getting to come up, take a picture, and receive their certificate. They admired the high-quality printing and enjoyed shaking different guest and volunteer hands—especially those of Tamara, Georgia, and Hanoia, who participated in the camp all day. After getting psyched up about the race next week, the girls left smiling with extra sandwiches and their certificates in hand.