Saudi women runners push boundaries on the streets

Women have been taking to the streets of Saudi Arabia’s cities in increasing numbers – to go running.

Jeddah Running Community was founded in 2013, challenging cultural norms under which it has long been widely considered inappropriate for women to participate in sport in public.

It was one of the first groups to hold mixed training sessions for women and men, though it also holds women-only meet-ups. The idea has gained traction more widely, with groups forming in other cities.

In recent years, the conservative Gulf kingdom has reversed a ban on sports for girls in public schools and allowed women to watch football matches in stadiums. It sent its first female athletes to the Olympics in 2012.

But although some rules for women have been relaxed – including the lifting of the ban on driving – women are still not free to travel, marry, divorce or even leave prison without the permission of a male relative.

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