As founder and president of the Beirut Marathon Association May El Khalil is often on the run. But that doesn’t stop her from taking the time to enjoy the natural beauty of Lebanon. She shares with LT some of her favorite spots
Where would you consider the most beautiful strip to run in Lebanon and why?
By the seaside or on any of the beautiful mountains of Lebanon are for me the most inspirational places to run. We have such natural beauties in our country that we should appreciate and relish.
If someone were visiting Lebanon for only 24 hours where would you take them?
I would try my best to take them to all the main landmarks of Lebanon starting with the National Museum, then head up North to visit the Jeita Grotto and then Byblos to visit the ancient ruins, with a stop at the old port for lunch. Following this, continue north for a hike through the small roads of Wadi Qannoubine.
Tell us about one destination in Lebanon that nobody knows about –your hidden gem awaiting discovery?
There is no specific place I can choose; to me, every single corner of Lebanon is a precious gem. Although this is not a secret [destination], I would highly recommend a visit to the Barouk Cedar Reserve to experience the positive energy and organic ambiance.
Where is your ideal summer getaway in Lebanon and what do you enjoy doing there?
Nowadays, my personal favorite is in Monsef, Batroun, because of my summerhouse on the seaside – it has a stunning shoreline. I love spending time there with my family and grandchildren by the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea.
Where is the olive oil in your kitchen from?
Definitely my preference is olive oil from Hasbaya, my husband’s hometown, and I am loyal [to it] because it is from our land. Where is your favorite place to enjoy a typical Sunday lunch outside Beirut? Any place that serves organic traditional Lebanese food. Whether it is enjoyed at a small restaurant with three or four tables in the mountains or on a picnic by the river, our native cuisine is the way to go.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Lebanon and where do you do it?
Well, of course, my favorite outdoor activity is running, but the occasional hike in Baskinta, renowned for its natural beauty, is definitely high on my list. You can visit, you can run, you can walk the one million steps between the north and the south, but in the end it is only truly meaningful when we are doing it all together, side-by-side.