Taste of Ramadan: Fasting and running, the ultimate cleanse

Jun 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm
Taste of Ramadan: Fasting and running, the ultimate cleanse
Fasting 5K/Facebook
Consider Ramadan the world's oldest detox. But instead of gulping down lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for that superficial pursuit of squeezing into a dress, you're cleansing your body, mind, and soul.

This is how many in the Muslim community look at the month-long fasting season. It's a time to take stock of what you eat after fast breaks, to focus on how you treat your body, and to take action to help those who are less fortunate.

So what better way partake in that self checking than to sign up for a competitive running event? The Fasting 5K was founded in Boston three years ago to raise money during the holy month. Since then, the run and walk has spread to a total of eight cities across the United States, including metro Detroit, which joined last year. The competitive aspect is not in who crosses the finish line first (it's not a timed race), but rather a friendly push to raise money for charities that seek to empower youth. Each of the 60 or so local participants have pledged to raise at least $250. This year, funds will go to The Children's Center in Detroit.

The five pillars of Ramadan include faith, prayer, social responsibility, fasting, and if possible, Hajj - a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah. Jabeen Siddiqui, a Fasting 5K organizer, tells us that the annual event helps fulfill at least a few of these obligations. The fasting and running forces participants to focus on spirituality and sacrifice, while the fundraiser fulfills the social responsibility aspect.

"For myself... it's a total intersection with your spiritual health, physical health, and the (health of) the community," she tells us.

The event commences today along the 275 Metro Trail in Canton Township just before Iftar (the breaking of the fast), which starts about 9:15 p.m. That means participants haven't had anything to eat or drink since before dawn.

For participant Amna Kamal, the fasting period reminds her of the blessings in her life and allows her to put herself in the shoes of those who do without everyday.

"There are people out there who go hungry all day who won't have anything to eat after sundown," Kamal tells us. "We want to know how that feels and we want to have that focus to help others."

This year, with Ramadan falling around the summer solstice, the days of fasting are long and hot. That means participants have to be especially diligent about what they put in their bodies before the event.

Kamal says she drinks at least three bottles of water after fast breaks and another two before dawn. She also makes it a point to eat the right kinds of carbs and proteins that'll give her lasting energy, like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, or coconut water.

Not typically a runner, Kamal has been walking just over 3 miles regularly to mentally prepare herself. She's also cast a wide net to reach friends and family to contribute to her monetary goal (she says she close to raising $2,500).

Those interesting in contributing to the Fasting 5K charity can do so by clicking here.

For an intro on the Ramadan custom of Iftar, click here. And peek at a traditional feast at the home of Bangladeshi family.