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From the trenches of Afghanistan to Toronto Marathon

By Assad Sharifi

22 October 2018

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Photo by Assad Sharifi

He had completed his first 42 kilometer marathon in 3 hours 12 minutes and 21 seconds.

“Unfortunately when I lived in Afghanistan, there was no marathon or half marathon,” said Yarghal, while drying sweat from his face.

“When I arrived in Canada, I searched the internet and came across the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. At first I wasn’t even sure if I would be qualified to participate in this event,” continued Yarghal.

Yarghal arrived in Canada in January of 2018 from Afghanistan, where he was an accomplished and decorated army officer.

Mohammad Yasar Yarghal exits the tracks set up at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon participants. Photo by Assad Sharifi

Like so many Afghans, Yasar left his homeland due to increasing insecurity and high casualty rate among the Afghan security personnel.

Prior to landing in Canada, Yarghal had studied four years at the Afghan Military Academy, an Officer Leadership course, and also Rangers courses in the United States.

Hearing about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Yarghal participated in Runners’ Choice Marathon Training Clinic, and it was there that he was encouraged to participate in the marathon event.

Yasar Poses for a photo in front of Toronto city hall, after completing 42.2 kilometere marathon during the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon event. Photo by Assad Sharifi

“When I approached the Marathon Training Clinic, they invited me to participate in a four months long training program with them, and in the first month they encouraged me to register for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The marathon training team and my coach saw in me the ability to successfully complete this marathon,” exclaimed Yarghal in one breath.

During the training, Yarghal thought to himself that he would be able to complete the 42 kilometer long rung much faster than the over3 hours that was prognosticated by his coaches.

But after participating in the run, Yarghal conceded that his coaches were right.

“During the training, I was told by my trainers and coaches that I would be able to complete this run between 3 hours 10 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes. Once I entered the marathon and saw the situation, what my coaches had foretold about the completion time was correct. I truly did not have the ability to complete such a long run for the first time without experience,” admitted Yarghal.

Mohammad Yasar Yarghal with a few of his running teammates at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Photo by Assad Sharifi

Yarghal is planning to break the 2 hours 28 minutes and 49 second record that was set by another Afghan, Waheed Karim, in California during 1990.

“It is my long term plan to break the record that was set in 1990, and I will bring new glories and honours to Afghanistan,’ said Yarghal with a determined look in his eyes.

Yarghal would like to see more young people joining running teams and adapting running as a sport.

“I would like young people to consider running as a sport, particularly in Afghanistan, because running is cheap, it does not require a special facility and can be done anywhere,” suggested Yarghal.

A throng of people gather in front of Toronto city hall during the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018. Photo by Assad Sharifi


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