OU distance runner’s journey through Ramadan and beyond


University of Oklahoma distance runner, Anass Mghari begins his daily practice at 8:45 p.m. on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Gaylord News photo/Kailey Carnine)

Anass Mghari, of Oujada, Morocco, and the middle child of five siblings, has been participating in Ramadan fasting since he was 12-years-old.

However, the difficulty of fasting  intensified as Mghari competed for the University of Oklahoma’s track team.

In the Islamic faith, Ramadan celebrates the moment God gave the Prophet Muhammed the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. During the month of Ramadan that ended April 20, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, pray and strive to strengthen their faith.

However, in an intensive sport like track and field, food is vital to recovery and overall energy.

“I was definitely a bit concerned at first because of where Ramadan falls within the season. It’s right when we’re traveling and competing,” Hannah Fields, OU’s distance coach said.

“The schedule is just crazy. I wake up, go to school, then see the trainers. Sometimes I’ll go take a little nap because your body is just so tired because there is no food or water. Then, I will come back at 5:30 to practice.  I break my fast at 7:30 and then go back to training at maybe 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. after everyone else is done practicing,” the Big XII Indoor Championship scorer said.

Mghari’s hectic training, school and fasting schedule is exceedingly difficult, especially thousands of miles away from his home in Morocco.

“Fasting wasn’t that hard when I was back home because the whole community is doing the same thing, so you don’t feel like you’re doing too much. Here, everyone is different with different religions,” Mghari said.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, more than 99 percent of Moroccans identify as Muslim. Conversely, in the U.S. only one percent of the United States’ population is Muslim.

Last year, Coach Fields decided to fast along with Mghari to offer much needed support. This also allowed her to construct a more conducive training schedule by approaching workouts through a Ramadan-centered lens.

“It was a learning process, and we had a lot of takeaways. Last year, he ended up setting a personal record for the first time in five years when we went to Miami in the middle of Ramadan. And it was actually really emotional and special,” Fields said.

Many of Mghari’s teammates moved their practice times this year during Ramadan to run and rally alongside the sophomore runner. Music and comradery now accompany their nightly runs and the team has grown closer.

“Anass is just a really incredible guy, and we just want to support him the best we can. We’ve all grown and learned so much because of him,” Diego Treviño, a team captain said.

Mghari has impressed many with his faith, fortitude and focus. As the outdoor season approaches, the OU men’s track team hopes to break records during the Ramadan season.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News go to GaylordNews.net.