12 Countries, a bicycle and an invincible wish. Morocco to Makkah in 94 days!
How far would you go for a long-awaited dream? Would you ride 8,000 kms across countless cities, days and nights and through extremes of climates to reach that one destination?
While most of us are ‘busy’ in our mundane cycle of life, there are those among us who keep the spirit and spark of their dreams alive, and even fewer who beat the odds to live that dream every day. In one of the most amazing stories of human persistence, will and courage encountered in the city of Jeddah, sixty-five-year-old Abdulkarim from Morocco embarked on a spiritual journey, one, where his destination was Makkah, but the pursuit has a remarkable story. No flights, no transport- a bare bicycle, his hopes and bagful of dreams.
Born in Casablanca Morocco, Abdulkarim Mosta enjoyed swimming, boxing and ultra-racing throughout his childhood and youth, and never let his growing years wear down his desire for more. His first ultra-race was in 1989 at the Marathon of Sands in Morocco. Till date he has participated in a hundred and sixty-five raids around the world, 27 times at the Marathon of Sands alone, emerging as the winner of the Ultra-Marathon World Cup twice.
Abdulkarim’s love for fitness, passion for travel and meeting new people, merged with his spiritual endeavour led him to his journey.
“I have been planning my on-road pilgrimage for the last 30 years. Since my youth, I have been deeply fascinated by the stories of my Moroccan ancestors who traversed thousands of miles through Africa to get to the holy city of Makkah. I wanted to revive the legacy of the Moroccan and African Muslims who traveled by foot or on the back of animals, but with my own twist of something new. For this reason, I chose to travel via Europe with my bicycle, and I believe I’m the first to make this trip.”
At the end of 3 months and 4 days, Abdulkarim had journeyed through 12 countries starting with Morocco and navigating through Spain, France, Italy, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. On setting foot in the scorching heat (50 degrees) of Saudi Arabia, Abdulkarim needed a place to feel rejuvenated before he took his final hajj pilgrimage. As a man who has lived a huge part of his life out of home, Abdulkarim knew just the place to go to, that would make him feel like home. Ascott Tahlia Jeddah is a luxury hotel apartment by The Ascott Limited who’s homely warmth and hospitality is world renowned. After a 3-days stay at the property, Abdulkarim resumed his journey to the holy city.
“I have enjoyed every bit of this journey for there has been a lot of learning, time tested patience, mental resistance and the sweet joy of the fruits of my efforts. Through the pleasant, cold and hot weather, the rains, winds and burning temperatures, and all dangers that are inevitable when traveling on a bike, I discovered that our body is a wonderful machine. We can go beyond our limits when we are mentally strong. Mind you, it is not that easy. I went through 2 years of physical, mental, technical and financial preparation for this day.”
Age is truly just a number for a man who took on quite an extraordinary quest. And he’s not planning to stop there. On his return, Abdullkarim has already organized a 60Km. foot race from Oued Lao to Chefchaouen, and a 100Km. race from Erfoud and Merzouga in Morocco. Abdulkarim is also planning to cross the USA from the East to the West, and Asia from the North to the South.
Abdulkarim finds it impossible to describe the spiritual part of his Morocco to Makkah trip but says in the humblest way “To achieve something that I’ve dreamed about for 30 years, makes me strong and fills me with a sense of pride. My life has changed deeply, from the inside and outside. My only message to the youth of today would be to keep moving, believe in your dreams, and in order to stay young, you need to carry with you some craziness”.