The head start
Mariz’s passion for sports, running and climbing mountains has given her a platform and an exposure that she would have never dreamt of.
In 2013 mariz was selected out of almost 100 women in Egypt to join the Women’s Initiative Fellowship program by George W. Bush Institute, finding herself having dinner with the president of the US and the First lady at their place, learning, developing and growing from world class figures throughout the whole program. Time passed and Mariz was called back again in 2019 to be a guest speaker, sharing her story and all the experience she gained throughout the years at the Bush Center presenting and speaking alongside with Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, Dr. Henry Kissinger and so many inspiring leaders.
Remember, the reason Mariz ended up here was only her passion for sports, running and mountains and that’s how far she’s reached.
“Injury to self-discovery
I’ve always loved sports since I was a little girl, always been active and loved to be part of almost all physical activities, yet I never had the chance to be a professional athlete.
Almost 10 years back was a turning point, when I had a knee injury which caused me to stop moving and playing any kind of sport. It was such a difficult phase, having to rest and not move for a whole year, alternating between physiotherapy and rehabilitation. After that year the Dr. told me: “you’re only allowed to run just to start waking your muscles up and strengthen your injured knee”. I started to explore the runner inside me, I gradually became a long distance runner, breaking new distances and personal records, starting from an easy 5K to 10k not believing to run a 21K and to finally become a 42K/full marathon finisher.
During my running journey one of the most important lessons I’ve lived and seen is that the race is the celebration, yet all the work and stretch and pain and ups and downs are in the training season. I had 3 a.m.’s and 4 a.m.’s wake up runs for long distance trainings, and I’ve had days where I didn’t feel well, or felt discouraged or not physically fit, but I still showed up.
I totally relate the running journey and race days to our lives, having all sort of feelings, being super fit at the beginning, happy, ready and all . After the first 10K you start to realize the long distance remaining, you hit another 10K starting to feel the pain, then another 5 struggling, then another 5 crawling, and the last 2 battling to stop at any moment and looking for all kinds of support, wishing to instantly reach the finish line, and then YOU MAKE IT AND EARN YOUR MEDAL. This journey is magical I can tell you that.
- 20 Half Marathons (10 official and 10 unofficial)
- 1 official Full Marathon
- Egypt, Czech Republic and Lebanon
My story with climbing mountains started at the end of 2016 / early 2017 when I was inspired by my friend who reached the highest peak of Africa Mount Kilimanjaro – I thought to myself “why not start exploring this sport”. I started doing my research, asking around, and learning more about mountain climbing (little did I know).
I had a mountain peak to reach, a dream to achieve, yet a big amount of money to cover, an amount I could not afford back then. I started writing down a proposal about who I am, what I do for a living, my day-time job, my dream, my cause (why I want to do this). I started to work on my proposal attempting to get sponsored.
I didn’t want to take this trip for self-pleasure – I wanted to create some noise and a mess – a good kind of mess! I wanted to craft this trip for a greater cause, something bigger than me, because the dream is greater than to be personal!
The cause was to support the women in my own region – the Middle East & Africa to defeat the undefeatable, conquer their own mountains (who doesn’t have a mountain or a burden in life!?) to go for a journey of self-discovery of their inner- most beauty, and to know that they are good enough – unlike all the lies, false cultural labels and messages that say “You’re not good enough”
I want to tell each woman “Dare to overcome, Dare to dream and dare to achieve”
My proposal went viral and the first feedback I got was from my very own employer – Medmark – encouraging and supporting me all the way to make this dream come to reality. This was a great push to work harder and seek more sponsors to cover the whole trip. Wow! Looks like things are getting real! A couple of days later I got a phone call from another sponsor expressing their interest and support to sponsor my cause, later, came along another email from the third to support the climb and cause.
On the 31st of October 2018 I was standing on the highest peak of Africa – I made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5, 895 meters high. The world’s highest free standing mountain. It was so tough, I learnt what altitude sickness is, I knew this was one of the reasons people die on mountains, I got so many symptoms of altitude sickness, including migraines, appetite loss, blacking out and feeling dizzy. I was soaked in rain 24/7, exposed to snow and hail, but I successfully made it at the end.
I got back super happy with the achievement, and I started working on my next peak attempt. I thought” let’s head to the Himalayas”, attempting Island Peak only 6,189 meters high, so close to the climb I just achieved. I worked on my cause, this time I wanted to support and help others through what I do and the mountains I climb. I reached out to Elisa Sednaoui Foundation to raise money supporting Creative Learning in Upper Egypt – Luxor.
The mountains make the last call
I Started training day in and day out – thanks to my coach Deana Shabaan – Ignite Egypt – worked on my proposal, got sponsors on board – again my employer Medmark standing out as the first to support and another sponsor came on board with full support as well; all set let’s go!
This one was longer, higher and harder.
I learnt that mountains are different in terms of altitude of course but also the weather, climate, nature of the mountains, trails – all make a big difference.
Island Peak journey was 14 days long, by the 5th day I started to get altitude sickness, migraines, dizziness, and appetite loss for days and days which consequently resulted in being drained. Throughout the route I made it to Ama Dablam Base Camp, 4,570 meters high then I headed to Everest Base Camp 5,364 meters high.
Reaching Everest Base camp was very challenging, sleeping in the freezing weather, and having altitude sickness hitting so bad, while I was still standing on my feet – yet I had to make one of the hardest decisions, and that was– to turn back and not continue to Island Peak – knowing that it was only few hundred meters away, I chose to turn back.
That day I learnt that the mountains get the last call, whether you will make it or not, and the mountains called me back down. My body couldn’t carry me any further step due to the altitude, and I couldn’t even walk on my own and I became so weak. I learnt that I was not supposed to be a super hero – I believe no one is. I fought till the very last moment but my human limited body just couldn’t make it any further. The mountains are not going anywhere and I chose a lifetime of endless chances rather than risking one’s life.
Later I realized that what I went through is actually more of a privilege than naming It anything else. I realized that few are the ones who reach their human and physical threshold where at that point you know that you gave your all; every breath, every sweat, and every heartbeat.
Not to forget mentioning that I’m in my 10th year of being a full time employee having a 9 to 5 job. It only takes a super supportive employer like mine who believes that people are more than just numbers.
A message from Mariz
You’ve got more potential than just acting like a robot behind a screen, you’re way more valuable than naming yourself a corporate slave. You’re blood and flesh who sees, feels and dreams. You’re where you are to be the best version of yourself. Make a mess and exist LOUDLY! You’ve got a potential that can move mountains and conquer ones! “