Today you can find Guled Nur Hussain, 42, smiling as he pounds through the streets of different neighborhoods in Cairo, Egypt.
“Running is my passion, and I think about achieving new goals every time,” he said.
And he certainly has been crossing things off the list: On February 15, he ran the Pyramids Marathon—the first marathon to feature the Great Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop—and finished in 3:30:32. He’s already looking ahead to March, where he will be pacing his third race with the Cairo Runners, this time in the 3:30 group.
It was in this exile that he discovered his love for running after being watching Mo Farah, who is also from Somalia.
“I was watching Mo Farah in the 2012 Summer Olympics,” Hussain explained. “That’s when I decided to start running—he was so inspirational.”
He started running on his own, but realized quickly he could use some community support.
“Running in Cairo wasn’t easy at the beginning, but when I realized there was a running troupe called Cairo Runners doing a half marathon in 2013,” he said. “I made a commitment to participate with them and relied on them for my weekly Friday runs.”
It was through his group runs where he became more familiar with his new home—and began to feel a sense of belonging both with his new country and with his new passion.
“I got to know the districts all around Cairo because they organize a run in different places every Friday,” he said. “That’s how I got started running.”
Since then, he hasn’t stopped.
“So far, I have run eight marathons, more than 15 half marathons, two 10K obstacle races, two 24-hour 100K challenges, a 50K, and a 60K ultramarathon,” said Hussain. “I’m not planning to stop running.”
Currently, Hussain works as the interpreter’s coordinator at the UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, in Cairo, helping other refugees, but when he’s not in the office, he’s continuing to pound the pavement in hopes of his running dream: to complete the six Abbot World Marathon Majors.
It’s something he can reach to and work towards—a goal that can help him cope with the pain of leaving his family and life behind in Somalia, and give him a purpose to move forward.
“Running has changed my life for the better,” he said. “It helped me find myself and know about my potential. I’ve achieved running goals that I (never) dreamt of and traveled to places I couldn’t think of traveling as a refugee.”