London Marathon number three for Anoosheh Ashoori

London Marathon number three for Anoosheh Ashoori

Now 70 years old, and just over two years since his release from being wrongfully detained in Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori embarked on his third London Marathon in April– something he could only dream of when imprisoned.

Anoosheh, who was held for nearly five years, raised more than £2,000 for Hostage International while promoting awareness for those affected by hostage-taking and arbitrary detention.

He turned 70 at the start of April and when asked about his third marathon in the space of less than three years, speaking before the Marathon, he said: “I think I’m still stuck in the 1970’s rather than being 70, and I am very excited about the marathon – it keeps me fit mentally as well as physically.”

Anoosheh first started running within the confines of Evin prison and at the time even wrote a short story about his dream to run the London Marathon.

Behind the dream, he found it hard to imagine actually running the London Marathon, and on Sunday 21 April he’ll be attempting his third and hopes to make it across the finish line in under six hours.

“It’s unbelievable but is in part down to my two golden rules for life; number one – always remember that perseverance pays off, and number two – to never forget golden rule number one!”

He explains: “Running isn’t just a sport, it’s a treatment for healing, a remedy for any psychological injury you might have.

“I used to run with my friends in Evin prison, so sometimes I feel they are here with me, running by my side. It helps keep my concentration and to feel that we are closely connected.

“When I first started running after my return home, I used to listen to music or podcasts, but I soon realised that it disconnected me from my thoughts.

“Now, I enjoy contemplating and spending the time in some way reconnecting with those people I have left behind.”

But, he admits, the long hours of marathon running and training takes things to a different level.

Aside from the impact on his body, particularly his knees and back, Anoosheh says that the hardest part of marathon training has been the boredom, when after one or two hours of pounding the streets, it’s easy to exhaust your thoughts.

“It becomes a new challenge, and facing the boredom is another exercise.”

Anoosheh copes by thinking about the future and his plans, particularly around his ambition to finish his book and find a publisher.

“I write in my head and occasionally stop to jot down a note in my phone to make sure I keep the memories.

“I would love to finish my book and find a publisher, and running gives me the time to think, away from distraction.”

In 2022, Anoosheh was given the London Marathon’s Spirit of London Award in honour of his achievements and giving him the freedom to participate in future London Marathons. Going into his third, Anoosheh said:

“You can be overconfident which is a bad thing as each London Marathon is specific to itself, and age is catching up on me, so I shouldn’t be too cocky, so I’d say I’m apprehensive but hopeful that I’ll make it across the finish line.

“I’m running for Hostage International – because the charity is there for families who are suffering and hopefully when a hostage returns, they can receive the help as I did.”

Please support Anoosheh here.

April 2024

Anoosheh pictured with Sir Terry Waite at Hostage International’s 20th Anniversary Event at the Old Bailey ©Stephaniebelton

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London Marathon number three for Anoosheh Ashoori
London Marathon number three for Anoosheh Ashoori