Karawan Halabi, a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze minority, made history last month as the first person from her community to win a track-and-field national championship.

The 24-year-old Daliat el-Carmel resident finished in first place among adult women in the 10.45-kilometer 58th annual Israel Open Field Racing Championship, held January 25 in cooperation with the Tel Aviv municipality.

Halabi began getting serious about the sport when she took a course in long-distance running at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa near her hometown, where she is now a fifth-year biomedical engineering student. After competing against other university track teams, she began training with coach Gill Lotem through Maccabi Haifa Athletics.

Champion Druze-Israeli runner Karawan Halabi and her mother. Photo: courtesy

Last November she won a 10k road race in Haifa, and in December she took a gold medal in the Emek HaMaayanot Half Marathon. But field running is her preference, she tells ISRAEL21c.

“I really like to run in the woods. It’s exciting and healthy. I just feel happier after each run.”

The Open Field championship took the 1,200 contenders (in a variety of age categories) on five rounds through the grassy hills and dales of Ganei Yehoshua Park in Tel Aviv.

Halabi now is working toward improving her results even more. “I just want to concentrate on doing my best,” she says.

The trilingual Halabi also volunteers for various organizations and strives to be a role model for other girls and women in her community. She has the full support of her parents, who come to every race. Her father, a retired superintendent in the Israel Border Police, proudly posts all of her results on Facebook.

Karawan Halabi on the winners’ podium after the 2018 Emek HaMaayanot Half Marathon. Photo: courtesy