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Nael Ogden-Smith back from Oita Japan Marathon

November 3, 2005

Nael Ogden-Smith is Back to Beirut and back to the beauty of our city. Nael’s contribution in The Oita International Wheelchair Marathon has truly been a great experience in racing for him, culture familiarity and most importantly a chance to have a self evaluation...
The Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, which initiated in commemoration of the United Nation's International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, counted its 25th anniversary this year.
The 24th Oita Marathon last year was a great and significant event, with 319 athletes from 17 countries and territories and from 39 prefectures nationwide, who competed a heated race in a rain condition second time ever in the event's history..
This year again, the energetic athletes gave courage and hope to the persons with disability, and also touched the hearts of the spectators who cheered along the course.
The race start was really impressive, with more than 300 racers, coming from 16 different countries. The racers were warned not to change lanes in the first 800 meters as not to cause any crashes. Despite windy conditions, Nael was still able to do a new Personal Best of 2 hr 07 min, approximately 10 minutes faster than his previous best. 
The organization of the race was truly amazing. The community spirit and involvement was second to none. An elementary school visit was scheduled where the kids had prepared flags, drawings, and posters for every nationality.  An opening and closing ceremony was organized with the presence of all the national flags including Lebanon’s. Nael was also featured in the city’s daily newspaper as “The first Lebanese comes to Oita with his brother”.
The organizers and volunteers made sure that all athletes had everything done for their comfort. Most of them had never met a Lebanese before. They also had translators for nearly every language spoken by athletes including Arabic. It was a great opportunity for Lebanon to get recognized in a new environment as well.
This enriching experience for Nael was, of course possible due to the contribution of “Act For Lebanon” organization. This trip has reaffirmed his drive to continue with the small steps that make an athlete recognized in this internationally competitive environment.
 This year’s racing season has come for Nael to an end with a 30min improvement from last year. The end of a racing season only brings the beginning of another training season.

For more pictures go to www.smiss.smugmug.com Oita marathon