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running iranian style

Tehran is about to host its first-ever international marathon, with a twist

The TehRUN race is being touted as Iran's first international marathon, with organizers saying it's about "building bridges" and "breaking barriers."

The head of Iran's track and field federation, Majid Keyhani, told reporters Wednesday that everyone is welcome to participate, and people from more than 40 countries are expected to take part. The marathon's website says 28 Americans are registered for Friday's event, but only men will be allowed to run through the streets; the 156 Iranian women and 50 foreign women expected to participate have to have a separate race inside a sports complex. In Iran, women wear headscarves and usually are not allowed to take part in sporting events in front of men or outside of enclosed facilities. The race website instructs female runners to wear headscarves or bandanas that cover their hair and suggests they don long-sleeve shirts and avoid shorts or skirts.

The race's main organizer is Sebastiaan Straten, a Dutch entrepreneur, who said he is excited to "promote street running to a large, young Iranian population." He told The Associated Press he personally does not agree with segregating the sexes, and is "trying to find other ways" to advance women's running in Iran. This time around, no professional runners, male or female, are expected to compete in the marathon.