Until I ran this marathon, I had never heard of getting sandblasted at the beach. Fleetwood marathon was the first of the 3 back to back marathons I was running as part of raising funds for the Pakistani flood victims. On the race morning, I drove from Glasgow to Fleetwood in my rented car. The journey took about 3 hours. As I reached the Town Hall in Fleetwood, it started raining quite heavily. The wind speed was around 34Km/h and I needed my running wind breaker to keep me warm. At the registration desk, they couldn’t find my bib and I also forgot to bring my confirmation email. After much deliberation, the race organizer gave me another bib. (When I reached Doha, I found the original bib on my desk, as they had mailed to me while I was away in UK!!!). The race started along the sea shore under overcast and windy condition. Within the next few miles, I realized what I was up against. All runners were getting sandblasted, and it was painful, liking someone poking countless needles all over your body. Basically, running along the Blackpool coast in a force 10 was not fun. Many experienced marathon runners ended up walking (me included) for a little while as the wind and sand being kicked up was enough to remove skin. After all, who needs expensive microdermabrasion treatment when you can do this and run a marathon at the same time!!!! The race course was all along the shore, out and back, so there was no hiding away from the forces of nature. It was absolutely impossible to run and my body temperature was cooling down fast which is dangerous from a medical view point. With about 10 miles to go, I bumped into another runner who had literally given up running and was merely walking towards the finish line. That runner was an Albanian Muslim and had been living in UK for 20 odd years. We ended up chatting the entire course, mainly about politics, the war in Balkans and races around the world. At the 26 mile mark, just 0.2 miles before the finish line, we stopped and took photographs and I did the same for him as he crossed the finish line. I gave him my email address after the race, but somehow never heard back from him, maybe he lost it. Anyhow, it was a tough race and am glad I completed it. Straight after, I changed and left for Glasgow, getting there after 3 hours.
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.