After pulling out at the 35K mark last year, I was determined to complete the marathon this year. The timing of the race wasn’t quite favorable as I had to be back in Doha for 3pm to write my MBA Finance exam. After work on Thursday afternoon, I took the flight from Doha to Dubai and reached there at 5pm. Unfortunately, there was a long line at the immigration which took about an hour and a half. From the airport, I caught the new Dubai metro to Jumeriah and by the time I got to Westin hotel, it was already 7:30pm. I had asked Pedro (the Brazilian friend who I met in Egypt) to meet me there at 6:30pm, but by the time I got there, he had already left. I picked up the race kit and took a cab to Julie and Daran’s place where I dropped off my bag and then headed straight to Karama Hotel to meet up with the ENBD boys. The evening was fun and we partied till about midnight.
I reached JLT just after 1am and went to bed at about 2:30am only to wake up at 4:45am to get to the race start. The race route was the same as last year and within the first 7K’s I met up with Chris Homann and Pedro. The disappointing part of the race was the unavailability of Isostar as they had run out of it on all stalls. Other than that, I met some interesting people on the way…one was a guy from Singapore (see pic below) who chatted and encouraged everyone throughout the course. Also, watching Haile Gebreselle run was a treat. He won the race for the third year in a row but could not break his own world record and win the $ 1M bonus prize. In the latter part of the race, I had to content with the sun which was beating down making the run difficult. However, I was determined to finish and had enough pain killers with me to help me to the finish line. After about five and half hours, I entered the last corner in Knowledge Village and just before the finish line, I saw Daran, Julie and Elle cheering me on. I could not stay long to enjoy the post race festivities as I had to catch the 2:15pm flight back to Doha. The medal was quite nice and I above all, I was relieved to finish the race this time around. I got to the airport, courtesy Julie, about an hour prior to take off and reached home 2 minutes before the scheduled start of the exam!!!!!
The race was held around Safa Park and required the runners to go around the boundary walls of the park 3 times to complete the 10K. I picked up the race number the night before the race. It was an unusual bib…. totally made in house and the number was embroided on the cloth. They use these numbers year after year, so I had to return it back after the race to get the finishers mug. Nadia, Zara & Mekaal accompanied me to the race and cheered me on through out the course. I had a bad race marred by shin splints. I thought it would go away after the first few miles, but it persisted until I finished the race. After the finish, we drove to the sailing club for a hearty breakfast. I had about 3 or 4 helpings while Nadia and kids stayed back in the car waiting for me. Rightly so, Nadia wasn’t too impressed. I made it up by taking them for a nice lunch afterwards !!!!
This 10 miler took place on a really hot Dubai day with the race starting at 8:30am at Mushrif Park. The reason for the late start was because the park doesn’t open before 8am. Both mine and Chris Homann’s families were there to cheer us on. The field wasn’t that big with only hard core runners taking part. It was the third weekend in a row that I was running, after the marathon in Egypt and RAK Half Marathon. Hence, my legs weren’t that fresh. The race route was 2 rounds of the park which was mostly rolling. The Pocari and water stops were a blessing as I was losing a lot of water due to the high temperature. I did quite well in the race, finishing in a little over an hour and a half. Everyone was there at the finish line to cheer me on, including Chris who had completed the race about 25 minutes before me. After the race, we drove to Chris’ house for a lovely breakfast. That evening I went to see the ATP Dubai Open as well.
This was one of the richest half marathons in the world and attracted the elite runners from all over the world. The world record was at stake but the winner missed out by less than a minute. The race pack was couriered to us (something that has never happened before). On race morning, I picked Chris Homann up from his place and we drove straight to Ras Al Khaimah for the race. It was an hour away and we got there with over 45 minutes left before the race start. It was quite a chilly day and I had to walk around to keep myself warm. The race start was quite spectacular with the marching band and plenty of TV coverage. There was a helicopter above that tracked the elite runners through out the course. The race was quite scenic taking us around all the nice areas of RAK. The last 10K’s was out and back and I managed to see the elite runners on the way back to the finish line. I finished the race in under 2 and half hours about 45 minutes slower than Chris who was waiting for me at the finish line. The medal was nice as well. The one bad thing about the race was that there was no powerade on the course, just water. Later on we received an email from the race director apologizing us of the mishap and how he was cheated out by the sponsor for not providing the electrolytes. The ones that reached the starting line had the expiry date of 3 days earlier, so had to be removed from the course. This only happens in a 3rd world country. Imagine this happening in States, it would be a field day for lawyers! After the race, we drove back to Dubai and after dropping Chris, I went straight home for lunch.
This was a very well arranged race and a beautiful course as well. The sponsorship was awesome. We all got nice T-Shirts, goodie bags and plenty of support along the course. The pre race gala was comparable to that of any big marathon with great music, warm up exercises by Fitness First and live bands. The race course was around the Dubai Creek with finish at the Dubai Creek Golf Club. Chris Homann was supposed to run as well, but he overslept after drinking all night. I finished the race in 2:25. The post race ceremony was even better than the pre race activities. I got a nice massage, which was followed by a buffet breakfast. The prize ceremony was very impressive as well with the winners getting big trophies. At the end, there was a prize draw with the biggest prize being a return airfare for 2 to South Africa for the two oceans marathon. Unfortunately I didn’t get it but was happy to be part of the race.
This was the start of the new season on running in Dubai and this race served as an ideal warm up for the NYC Marathon in 2 weeks. Throughout the summer I was training indoors and was in a much better shape than when I ran this race a few months back. However, a couple of weeks before the race I was struck with a bout of flu and was bed ridden over the Eid break. That set my training back but I was determined to run. By that time, I had moved to JLT which was a 5 minute drive to Mina Seyahi. I got to the race start about 5 minutes before the start and barely had time to stick on the bib before the race started. I wanted to make sure that I run along with Chris and so I did but only up to the first 3K’s. As I was on my 2nd round, I saw a runner collapse due to exhaustion but later it was confirmed that he was fine and recovering. The latter part of the race was fine as I ran at my own pace and finished it about 2-3 minutes faster than my earlier time The medal was the same as last time and again I did not win anything in the prize draw.
Ziyad Rahim is an adventure-runner from Pakistan. He currently holds 10 Guinness World Records in long-distance running, ranging from marathons to ultra-marathons.