(MENAFN - Jordan Times) UM QAIS — Jordanian athlete Mohammad Al Sweity and British runner Alfie Pearce-Higgins on Friday embarked on the first ever attempt to run the 650-kilometre-long Jordan Trail, passing through 52 villages across the Kingdom.
The 15-day run is organised by the Jordan Trail Association (JTA) in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and USAID's Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project.
The course was inaugurated under the patronage of Tourism Minister Lina Annab, who expressed her wish for the runners' journey 'to show people how much our beautiful country has to offer'.
'Tourism is a key economic driver for us in Jordan, and we rely heavily on inbound tourism from all over the globe,' Annab continued, highlighting that 'adventure tourism has greatly contributed to showcasing to the world the stunning diversity of sites in Jordan.'
For her part, JTA Chairperson Muna Haddad said that 'the Jordan Trail showcases the wealth of historical and archaeological sites in our country and celebrates the stark diversity in Jordan's landscapes and cultural localities.'
'Fewer than 20 people have hiked the full length of the trail in one go,' continued Haddad, expressing that 'it is very exciting to support Alfie and Muhammad in their quest to be the first to run it.'
Sweity is one of Jordan's renowned trail runners, having won the second place at the India Ultra Marathon (195km). The athlete has competed several long-distance runs across the globe, including the American Badwater Marathon (217km) and the Marathon des Sables in Morocco (251km).
'Jordan has some of the finest trails for running in the world,' said the athlete at the inauguration of the run, expressing his hopes to 'encourage more people to visit and experience the wonders of my country's mountains and deserts'.
For his part, Pearce-Higgins has completed many races and expeditions, including running across the Gobi Desert (2016), driving across Asia (2012) and Africa (2013), cycling across Sierra Leone, and canoeing in Ghana (2017).
'Of all the great trails in the world, the Jordan Trail is the one about which I am most excited. The culture, the history, the terrain and the scenery all make this epic journey truly unique,' said Pearce-Higgins, noting that he is also having 'the added privilege of running the trail alongside one of Jordan's best athletes.'
When asked about the athletes' experience over the first day of the run, JTA Director Bashir Dawod said that 'the runners achieved a good sense of what is to be expected on the trail,' noting that 'they are very happy and excited to keep going, yet aware of the challenges'.
This inaugural run is set to become a regular event organised by JTA as an annual fundraiser to support the development and maintenance of the trail, attracting athletes from all over the world to experience the diverse landscapes and beautiful nature that Jordan has to offer.
The Jordan Trail, managed by the Jordan Trail JTA, spans over Jordan's diverse terrains and landscapes, beginning in Um Qais in the north and winding past forests, mountains, deserts and canyons to end at the Red Sea in Aqaba.
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