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Meet the Only Afghan Woman to Run Afghanistan's First Official Marathon

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Completing a marathon requires an incredible amount of strength, stamina, and fortitude—especially if you’re a woman competing in Afghanistan’s first official major road race.

The Guardian recently profiled a 25-year-old female athlete, Zainab, who ran in her country’s pioneering international marathon earlier this month. The event was held in the mountainous central province of Bamiyan, and it drew 35 runners, along with 80 other individuals who ran a 10k. Although local schoolgirls participated in the shorter sporting contest, Zainab was the only Afghan female to participate inand completethe entire event.

Zainab spent two months training for the event by running laps around her parents’ backyard. When she finally hit the road, she faced myriad challenges—including gender-based harassment and accusations of cheating— along with more standard problems like altitude adjustments and chilly temperatures. However, she eventually reached the finish line alongside two other female runners from Belgium and Canada.

This isn’t Zainab’s first marathon. She was athletic all her life, and played basketball and participated in taekwondo clubs before working for Skateistan, an international skateboarding charity. However, an organization called Free to Run gave Zainab a grant last year to compete in an ultramarathon in China’s Gobi desert. Zainab caught the running bug, and now she's blazing trails—literally and figuratively—wherever she goes. 

Read a little more about Zainab’s inspiring life over at The Guardian, or watch their video of her pounding the pavement.

[h/t The Guardian]

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New Pop-Up Museum in Maryland Looks at What It's Like Being a Teen Today
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Museums across America explore everything from break-ups to the human urinary tract system. Now, The Washington Post reports that a group of Maryland high school students have launched a pop-up museum dedicated to the modern teenage experience—selfies, schoolwork, and social pressures included.

Located in a vacant restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland, the Museum of Contemporary American Teenagers (MoCAT)—which is set to run from December 6 to December 9, and again from December 14 to December 16—is primarily organized by students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Organizers believe it’s the first project of its kind to explore teen identity and culture.

Displays at MoCAT, which received funding through donations and crowdsourcing, will include murals, 30 exhibits, live performances, and 150 “selfie” sculptures molded from clay. Exhibition themes are slated to change daily, and cover topics that run the gamut from unrealistic body image expectations to smartphone addiction and college application stress. Others are more political in nature, examining everything from fear of gun violence to shifting gender norms.

The MoCAT isn’t intended to be permanent, as it’s located inside the future sight of Marriott’s new headquarters. But according to The Washington Post, the students say they’d love to see the initiative eventually gain new life as a traveling exhibition featuring contributions from teens around America.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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A Slice Above the Rest? Pizza Could Earn UNESCO World Heritage Status
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People all around the world love pizza. But the dish has special significance for Italians: It's widely believed that a 19th-century Naples man named Raffaele Esposito invented the modern iteration of the sliced pie. To celebrate this culinary legacy, Food & Wine reports that more than two million Italians have petitioned for pizza to be given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Launched in 2006, UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list recognizes traditional practices and activities around the world—including music, food, and dance—that shape national identity. Delicious additions have included Turkish coffee, Croatian gingerbread, Japanese washoku, the Mediterranean diet, and the cuisines of Mexico and France. Not just any food can be added to the list, however: UNESCO honors (and aims to preserve) only traditional cooking methods that were pioneered by a single nation.

Pizza makers in Naples argue that their wares fit the bill, as Neapolitan pizza was born in their home city. As The Telegraph reports, they also hope that a special UNESCO designation will protect pizza from "food piracy and appropriation." This offense includes using non-Italian ingredients and unorthodox toppings and sauces. (Pineapple, anyone?)

UNESCO's committee on cultural heritage meets in Seoul, South Korea, in early December. There, they will decide whether Neapolitan pizza deserves a spot on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list—and maybe even enjoy a slice or two themselves.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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