Introducing Nelofar and Zainab

Free to Run is currently supporting two Afghan women in their efforts to compete in the Gobi March 2015, a 250 kilometer, 7-day self supported footrace which is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series.

Nelofar and Zainab will be sharing their progress with us through a weekly blog. Read on to find out about their training, share in their successes, and learn about the immense challenges they face as women in Afghanistan… and please join us in cheering them on.

Free to Run is providing these amazing young women with transportation stipends to allow them to travel to and from safe training grounds each day, training plans by world-renowned ultrarunner Ray Zahab, and ongoing support through a group of four experienced international ultrarunners, including three-time world record holder Mimi Anderson. We will also be funding their travel costs to and from the race. Their gear has been generously donated by RacingThePlanet and their race entries sponsored by the 4 Deserts. For one year following the race, Nelofar and Zainab will be acting as Free to Run Ambassadors within Afghanistan, working to inspire other young women to reach for the stars.

If you have any questions about this initiative or would like to support this project, please contact Stephanie at for more information.


1 March 2015

Nelofar: I was born in Afghanistan and grew up in the Pakistan. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters, and I am living with my family in mazar –e- sharif Afghanistan. I love running and it is about one month that I’ve been practicing for this running race. In my family, my mom supports me a lot and she thinks that I will be a winner, and I am so excited about this race. Me and Zainab are practicing in the gym four days every week and in the mountains two days of the week. We are running and walking. This is a very good and big opportunity for us. Everybody – my friend and family, are supporting us to be winner in this race. And I will try my best to be winner not just to finish. I have lots of dream about this race to be winner.

Zainab: Last week we had 2 days off because of snowy weather. In fact the problem was not the snow, it was a transportation problem – here when the weather is snowy or rainy streets will become full of water or frozen. Last week in some provinces of Afghanistan we had a very heavy snow, and a bunch of people were killed by snow break. Now we have 3 days of mourning for about 200 people killed in Panjshir, Salang, Bamyan and Badghis provinces. It was really sad news for me. Our running training is going pretty well, I have pain in my hip, shoulders and calf. I am waiting for next Skype meeting with one of our mentors to tell her my pains! One thing that I realize during 1 and half month of running training is that we are scared to do free warm up in front of our people, because our community has instructed us that sport is not good for girls. But we are doing it and it is really fantastic!