Egyptian marathoner Manal Rustom: Scaling summits

Salonaz Sami, Wednesday 22 Mar 2023

On 5 March, Manal Rustom, a marathoner and mountaineer, completed the prestigious Tokyo Marathon, becoming the first Egyptian woman to have completed all six Abbott World Marathon Majors. The six marathons are held annually in Tokyo, New York, Boston, London, Chicago, and Berlin.

Manal Rostom in her sixth major marathon
Manal Rostom in her sixth major marathon


Rustom is determined to make her dreams come true. She has reached some of the highest peaks in the world, from Mont Blanc to Mount Kilimanjaro. 

On 16 May 2022, Rustom became the only Egyptian female athlete to have climbed Mount Everest, the world's highest summit, at 8,849 metres. "It's been tough, challenging, isolating, physically-demanding, mentally-draining, I thought I had done the work, but I'm lonely," she wrote on Instagram.

"Call me a drama queen, but I have been here for almost two months attempting this life-long dream and goal. At this point, I am full of self-doubt and insecurities. I am the slowest climber on the team," she added.  
Forbes Magazine named Rustom among Africa's 50 most powerful women. The unranked compilation looks into the achievements of the continent's leading women in sports, business, politics, media, science, and public life.

"Your life is your life, your dreams are your dreams, don't ever have anyone place your dreams, thoughts, or goals in a small box, smash open that little box and challenge the world to go chasing your dreams like there is no tomorrow," Rustom said in her emotional presentation in TEDx back in 2017.

"You are capable of moving mountains, literally, your heart and mind can lead, your legs follow, and then the world. Your gut voice, you have got to use it, speak up and always express yourself in any way possible," she added.

Nike chose Rustom, a pharmacist by training, as the first Hijabi woman to be the face of one of their womenswear campaigns. She also founded Surviving Hijab, the world's largest hijab community on social media, gathering about one million female members to share their experiences and challenges with hijab.

Becoming a Nike brand ambassador and the face of many sports campaigns around the world, Rustom continues to smash through the glass ceiling of the sports industry.

She concluded her TEDx talk by stressing that every idea is a great idea. "One small idea that people mock can explode into a life-changing revolution that will inspire generations to come." 

Lastly, she quoted Steve Jobs: "People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

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