Winding road takes runner Abdihamid Nur from Somalia to the starting line at worlds for the US

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The path for Abdihamid Nur to get to the starting line of the 5,000 meters has been both winding and filled with crossroads.

Winding, because he and his family relocated several times, including fleeing Somalia when he was little. Crossroads, because his path didn’t even include running until it was recommended for recovery after he was involved in a serious car accident.

Sometimes, the 25-year-old American citizen takes a quick moment to reflect on the journey that brought him here, to Budapest, and another world championships.

“It’s like, ‘Wow, this is my life.’ It’s pretty crazy,” said Nur, who finished fifth in his heat of the 5,000 meters on Thursday night to advance to the final. “I never thought running would bring me all of this.”

Nur is the second-youngest in his family, with three older brothers and three older sisters, along with a younger sister. They're all on their own unique and rewarding paths now — thanks to mom.

She wanted a safer life for her family so she made the decision to leave Mogadishu, Somalia, amid the country’s instability. Nur was young then and doesn’t recall that part of the trek or their brief stay in Kenya. But he does remember the family's five or so years in Egypt and their coming to America. They spent a little bit of time in New Mexico before traveling to Apple Valley, Minnesota, where they had family.

His mom made ends meet by taking odd jobs as a janitor, babysitter — anything that could help out her family.

It’s where his work ethic was instilled.

“I try to make her proud, because I know how hard she worked,” Nur explained.

But running didn't enter the picture until the family moved to Phoenix just as he was entering high school. Back then, he was a soccer player.

Until the car accident.

He was a passenger in the backseat when the car he was riding in got hit by another driver. He tore ligaments in his knee and needed surgery to fix his collarbone.

“They told me I would play soccer again as long as I did the rehab,” Nur explained. “I just wanted to get back on the field as soon as possible and running was one of the things I picked up for endurance and conditioning.”

Running soon went from something he had to do to something he wanted to do.

It didn't take him long to get up to speed, either, taking third in his first race. As a senior, he won a state cross country title, which paved the way to competing at Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. While there, he won the 2022 NCAA indoor championship in both the 3,000 and 5,000.

In May of that season, he ran 13 minutes, 6.32 seconds to break Henry Rono’s NCAA mark in the 5,000 — a record that was set in 1978.

That gave Nur confidence heading into U.S. championships last season, where he finished third to earn a spot at the worlds. And at the worlds last year in Eugene, Oregon, he ended up 11th in a star-studded field.

The confidence soared even higher.

“If you were to tell me a year before that, ‘Hey, you’re going to break the collegiate record, get third at U.S. championships and be there at worlds,’ I probably would’ve looked at you crazy,” Nur said. “But I knew that I had a chance, so I just gave myself the confidence.”

Nur has long looked up to Mo Farah, the Somali-born runner who represented Britain and won two Olympic gold medals each in the 5,000 and 10,000.

Now, Farah is someone he can chat with for guidance.

“Him being a mentor to me is pretty surreal and special,” Nur said.

It was a piece of advice from Farah that Nur took to heart.

“He said, ‘Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Whatever you focus on is what grows, so choose wisely on what you focus on and what you take on,'" Nur recounted. "He was like, 'You can be positive. You can be loose, and that transitions into your running and into your life.’”

For running advice, he might turn to Farah. For everything else, his mother is the role model.

“She believed coming to America was in our plans for us,” Nur said. “We didn’t know how it was going to work out but amazingly, all my siblings, and all of us, were able to succeed really well and take advantage of the opportunity that America gave us.

“Sometimes, I’ve got to pinch myself. I was just a normal kid who just worked hard and believed in the system.”


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