Noor Shidad, center, Abdirazak Abukar, right, and Asad Abukar stretch at the beginning of track practice at Lewiston High School on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

LEWISTON — Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and during that time many Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown.

The timing of Ramadan shifts from year to year because it’s on a lunar calendar. This year it falls in the final month of the spring sports season (May 6 to June 3). For three Lewiston High School track and field athletes, the last few weeks of Ramadan are also championship time.

Asad Abukar, Abdirazak Abukar and Noor Shidad are all practicing every day with nearly no food in their systems.

“It’s a tough thing for them,” Lewiston coach Paul Soracco said. “It’s championship time and are going against kids who are nourished and then can have something to eat. Then there’s these kids — I had one kid the other day who was gassed at practice and was laying down and he said, ‘Coach, I have no energy.’”

Shidad, a top 400-meter runner in Class A, said his focus in practice has shifted from speed and power training to more technical work because his energy levels are lower during Ramadan.

“I take everything easy,” Shidad said. “I try not to go hard in everything I do. When I come to track I try to focus on technical things instead of pushing. I try to be more technical with things like my block starts. Stuff like that.”

Soracco can see the energy difference between the team’s fasting and non-fasting athletes.

“It’s a tough time for them because they’re doing this for a month,” Soracco said. “We’re getting a lot of kids who don’t come out because they know they’re going to have to fast for a month. It’s really hard to come out to a meet, run four events and not have any food in your system. It’s hard. It’s a tough thing.”

Meet days for the Blue Devil runners differ between them.

Abdirazak Abukar, a sprinter who runs one of the legs on Lewiston’s great 4×100-meter relay, learned the importance of stretching and adjusted warm-ups the hard way during last Saturday’s River City Rivals track meet that featured Edward Little, Bangor and Brewer.

“You really have to get a good warm-up,” Abdirazak Abukar said. “I did really bad last week because I kind of laid down and you have to warm up and stretch before your races.”

Shidad didn’t fast on the day of the River City meet and said he won’t fast on the days of the KVAC and state championship meets.

“It’s hard. Fasting is hard, in general,” Shidad said. “So it’s like when you’re fasting and running, especially in a meet, what if you’re running the 400 and you’re fasting and the 400 takes a lot out of you? What I do is, when it’s a really big meet like KVAC and River City, I don’t fast because I think it’s a big meet and I need to focus and can’t have anything holding me back. If it’s just a regular meet then I make sure I stretch very properly because it’s really easy to pull a muscle or get a cramp.”

Shidad ran the 400 in 51.87 seconds at River City Rivals, a season best.

“In the early season, I was running 53s and I checked my ranking and I was around eighth in the state,” Shidad said. “It was my second-to-last meet to up my ranking before states, so I wanted to be the fastest in the state. I wanted to run a personal best in the 400, so I decided I was going to run my best in the 400 and that’s what I did.”

Noor Shidad practices the 4×100-meter relay at Lewiston High School on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

Abdirazak Abukar decided that he, too, will break his fast on the day of KVACs. He and Shidad are two of the legs on Lewiston’s 4×100 relay team that ran the event in 45.16 seconds last Saturday.

Asad Abukar, a 300-meter hurdler, said that meet days, in a way, become simpler for him while fasting.

“On meet day I don’t really like eating a lot anyways because you get butterflies and you have to go to the bathroom three times,” Asad Abukar said. “I really don’t have to go to the bathroom when I’m fasting because nothing is in my system. I’m just really pushing through it.”

Shidad, Asad Abukar and Abdirazak Abukar are three of Lewiston’s fastest sprinters, so the Blue Devils are counting on them to push through at KVACs this Saturday at Morse High School, and then next week went Lewiston hosts the Class A state meet.

Noor Shidad practises the 4X100 relay at Lewiston High School on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover