Activist•Speaker•Blogger•athlete Rahaf khatib

Running is a sport that doesn't have a requirement when it comes to height, shape, weight, size, and color of our skin. Our core values here at Mid Strike Magazine is to make sure that we are representing the diverse running community the right way, to make sure that we are showing that there are runners across the globe that are athletes who are everyday people living their life as husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, career professionals etc. Someone mentioned a few weeks ago that “not all heroes wear capes” some wear medals, simply put the ones that wear medals are the ones that inspire change to the everyday people. Representation is also important as not every runner is an Olympian and there are times where the message is missed when it comes to larger publications, our goal is to make sure we give all runners that are making a difference not only in their communities but also their cultures a chance to shine, to share their voices and stories. This month we are super excited to chat with Rahaf Khatib, activist, speaker, runner, mother and THE FIRST Syrian World Marathon Major finisher. Quite simply all amazing.

MSM: Running has opened so many doors and avenues and opportunities for you over the last couple of years. Before we get into the details of those successes let's get into how you got into running and why? Running is not for the faint of heart and it's also one of the more difficult forms of workouts that a human body can do. Here’s the thing though, the benefits if you are consistent are amazing. When did you know that running was the lifestyle you wanted to work towards?

Rahaf: Running began after I had my 3 kids. I had never run before and despised running in high school for gym class. I would actually try my hardest to skip running period in gym! My kids’ school was participating in a race that had various distances. My kid was running the one mile, and I signed up for the 10k! I naively thought to myself why I would pay money to only run 3 miles when I can run 6?! I had zero knowledge about anything running related, and how competitive a 5k can be. I showed up to the start line wearing cotton everything, with little training. Despite this, I had the most amazing time and immediately wanted more. Came back year after for the half marathon, than the full marathon and history was made soon after :).

MSM: Running has led you to finishing 11 marathons, TWENTY half marathons and I'm sure countless other races. What have been some of your favorites over the years that have stood out, which races have meant the most. 

Rahaf: There are numerous moments in my running journey that I am very proud of. For one, I had entered a cover search contest for Runner's World to be on the cover of RW magazine. Out of thousands of entries, I was voted top ten, but didn't make that cover, However, in October of 2015 I landed the cover of Women's Running Magazine and that made national and international headlines. I made history as the first Hijabi (Muslim women who wear Hijab) to be on the cover of a Running/fitness magazine. I soon earned my Six Star Medal in London of 2018 after fundraising for Brain cancer in honor of my Late Father. I made history for that as well as I became the first Syrian to do so. That made my father and community proud given the humanitarian and political circumstances Syrians are facing. I wanted to do this for the displaced Syrian refugees. My Boston marathon was dedicated to Syrian refugees as I raised $16,000 for Syrian Americans in who relocated to Michigan. Fundraising for various causes and Running go hand in hand for me. For me that serves a bigger purpose to running. It also helps me break so many stereotypes about Muslim Women who wear hijab, Prior to my magazine cover, and features, there wasn't many positive Representation of Muslim women in this sport. To me that serves as a groundbreaking year that changed everything in an otherwise very 

MSM: A friend of ours Malika Austin mentioned to us that “not all heroes wear capes, some are runners that wear medals”. You’ve done a lot first in such a short period of time. To us that speaks volumes to the focus and the accountability when it comes to your run journey. Staying on the topic of finishing 11 marathons the accomplishments within those 11 marathons were huge. 6 of those being world marathon majors which equals a 6-star finisher which also equaled you becoming the very first Syrian to grab that six star medal. Take us through that feeling of that accomplishment and what it means not only to you but to those that you’ve inspired along the way.

Rahaf: That quite literally was my purpose from when I first crossed the finish line of my first race back in 2012. And the whole reason of my very public profile on Instagram @runlikeahijabi. I wanted to shed a positive outlook on Muslim hijabi runners, as well as stay at home moms like myself who wanted to prove something to herself. I wanted to have my kids view my accomplishments for them to be proud of, and for fitness brands to feature someone who looks like me more in ads and media as we have been ignored for far too long! I also wanted all my fundraising and writings/blogging to hopefully be counted for me as good deeds in my scale while I serve my time here on earth. For it to be more 'purposeful' if you will....

“When we learn about the religions of our neighbors, we’re better able to respect and communicate with one another”


Over the years Rahaf Khatib has done lots of running and races, and she's not slowing down anytime soon. She uses running as a tool, as a vessel to inspire others, using her voice are feet and her feet carry the strength of her true beliefs that will help to create the necessary change we want to see within the running community. Running empowers her and our communities. To be healthy, and to be the best version of themselves Rahaf is a prime example of just that. Her empowerment and inspiration go a very long way to those that need it, and it shows in her community work and efforts. Rahaf has done various fundraising for cancer research, specifically brain cancer, as she honors her father when it comes to fundraising. 

Our early run journeys can be a bit of a struggle, some parts of our struggles were not seeing runners that we could relate to in person or in running publications. To be honest it can sometimes lead us to no longer wanting to run. Once we find our running family everything tends to take off from there. Rahaf has worked to change that as she coaches Girls on The Run and Adidas hijab with a larger goal of working to become a certified trainer and coach.

“When we learn about the religions of our neighbors, we’re better able to respect and communicate with one another”


A quote that is very deep, we as people tend to fear or don't accept something that they are not used to seeing and rather than to talk and learn about it, the response of not accepting it is due to the inability to learn about a person, place, or culture. 

MSM: What is it that fuels and drives you as a runner?

Rahaf: What fuels me the most is running for humanitarian causes, not numbers. You see, I’m a runner, an athlete, AND a social advocate. running gives me the tools to advocate for what the media doesn’t want you to see. What the media portrays as the most “perfect runner” that I’ll simply never be. Nor do I fit into that mold. Never will. Don’t desire to. This is why you’ll never see numbers on my running page each one has its time and place. But one far more outweighs the other for me at least.

MSM: Have you ever felt a sense of push back from other runners or people in the muslim communities seeing the positive things that you have been doing over the years?

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