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SERWAN ZANGANA: With God’s Help I Am Able to Conquer An Elevation of 7400 Feet

The Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke has become a traditional event for many people from across the nation and is certainly one of the most interesting events that people travel to Roanoke to participate in. In addition to the financial benefit for Roanoke, it brings people together and creates an environment of unity and friendship.

A marathon is unlike any other sports in that in lieu of hot competition (think soccer, football, basketball etc.) it brings patience and calmness to one’s mind as a runner by focusing on the finish line and enjoying the scenery. Marathon runners are even known to be helpful to one another.

Despite the cancellation of this year’s race in the first hour due to a thunderstorm, some participants did not stop and continued running to the finish line. The race officially was not posted online but the determination and the love of the event encouraged people to continue, keeping the event alive and creating some great new memories.

The challenge of Blue Ridge Marathon is the 7400 feet elevation as the runners have to run to the top of three mountains, Mill Mountain, Roanoke Mountain and the mountain that Peakwood Drive traverses. For many people the completion of this marathon is an obligation / duty that must be fulfilled.

My first memory of the Blue Ridge marathon began in 2013. I had been thinking about running one marathon in my life and I finally decided to register for it. However, throughout the course while I was running, I began telling myself that I would never run another marathon again.

Obviously, I was not among the fast group, but I was not the last one to finish either. I ran through the finish line with a deep feeling of accomplishment. I did not run for the record of the world nor for the prize and the camera – I ran to test myself, and I passed. And guess what, I still run a marathon every year and each time I run I tell myself that I will not run again!

Usually I don’t train for marathons as most of the runners do, but sometimes I do run about 3-6 miles in the neighborhood. Running has become my psychological relief and mental health counseling. I believe that God gives me both serenity and the patience through running.

One thing is for certain – without God’s power I would not be able to finish the Blue Ridge Marathon, but with his will and help I am able to conquer the elevation of 7400 feet.

Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S Army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.

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