Manal Rostom is an Egyptian activist and athlete who makes history happen. Being the first Egyptian to have completed five out of the six world marathon majors, Rustom is always up for the next challenge. She has scaled some of the highest peaks in the world from Mont Blanc to Mount Kilimanjaro, and as of 16th May 2022, she ticked the world’s tallest mountain - Mount Everest - off of her list.
A grueling two months took her to complete the summit. Rustom took to Instagram on a number of occasions during her climb to share glimpses of her intense physical and mental journey. In one Instagram video she had posted, 3 weeks before she completed the climb, she is seen crying and explaining how difficult it was, and can’t give up because she doesn’t want to let anyone down. She also shows a fellow climber who supported her the entire way and captioned the post, “I debated whether to share this dramatic video as I don’t cry on social media but I will cry on Everest."
“It’s been tough, challenging, isolating, physically - demanding, mentally - draining - I thought I’d done the work but I’m lonely as f*ck. Call me a drama Queen but I’ve been here almost 2 months attempting this lifelong dream and goal. At this point I’m full of self-doubt and insecurities. I’m the slowest climber on the team,” she wrote.
Thanking fellow climber and support, Anup Gurung, she added, “I have an angel that is @anupgurung54 to remind me to just take it one day at time but I’m scared sh*tless. He hears me crying in the tent and comes to my emotional rescue. He hears me panicking at night and comes to my rescue IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. God bless you @anupgurung54.”
She concluded her caption, “I have this humongous pressure to represent and deliver and I’m trying and will try hard and please note that I have not quit yet. We have a few more days to the summit push. Please pray for me.”
Proving to be a determined fighter, she achieved her goal, in spite of every doubt and was able to push through. Manal Rostom completed her two-month journey to climb to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth at 8,849 m.
She first began her mountaineering career when she scaled Mount St. Catherine in 2009 before she took part in marathons around the globe including New York City, Berlin, Chicago, Boston and London, as well as the Great Wall of China. Rostom has also scaled, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Elbrus, and made it to the Mount Himalaya base in 2016.
A woman of many firsts, Nike also chose Manal Rostom to be the first hijabi woman to be the face of one of their womenswear campaigns. The Egyptian athlete also founded 'Surviving Hijab', a Facebook group that boasts around 600,000 female members that share their experiences, and is often invited to speak at major events where she tells her own story about how she challenges the status quo and spreads an empowering and positive message and calls for inclusivity and tolerance.