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.
What a great boy’s holiday. Chris Ping and I decided to visit Egypt for a week to do some sightseeing and take part in the marathon. We flew into Cairo and spent the next 2 days visiting the Pyramids, Citadel and other historic places in and around Cairo. The following day, we took the overnight sleeper train to Luxor and stayed at the beautiful Movenpick resort which was the official race hotel. On race morning, we were bussed to the Hatshepsut Temple for the 7am start. The race started just after dawn under beautiful clear skies and perfect weather. It was a low key event with most of the runners from abroad, including a big Japanese contingent. We met some interesting people, especially a couple from Australia (Mike & Marie). The race course was a bit boring, 4 rounds around the course that was set on the foothills of the Valley of the Kings. Every 2.5k, there was water and bananas on the course. During the race, a film crew in an open jeep was interviewing runners on the course and I had my 2 minutes of fame when I told them on camera that I’m a Canadian and had especially come for the race from Dubai. I ran the first half at quite a good pace but with the sun out, the temperature soared to around 30c and I began to tire a bit. Luckily I found a soda stand and stopped by to have a chilled Coke. That did the trick as I finally got some sugar into my system. I ran and walked the rest of the course and had to dodge a crazy donkey, idiot drivers as well as children begging along the course. Having read the reviews before coming, I knew this would happen but I was determined not to give up. By the time I was a few kilometers from the end, most of the cones were removed from the course but I was still under the cut off time. After 5 and half hours on the tough course, I reached the finish line and was greeted by the quite a few people, including the Aussie couple. Later I found out that Marie came overall 2nd in the women’s category. An hour later we were taken back to the hotel where we relaxed for the day. In the evening, there was a great gala dinner especially arranged for the marathoners. I was presented the finishers medal and papyrus certificate. The award ceremony was followed by sumptuous BBQ dinner and belly dancing show. If the marathon was a disappointment, the Gala dinner compensated for that. We made great friends there. A doctor by the name of Paulo from Brazil, the Aussie couple, a gold medalist figure skater from USA, just to name a few. The next day we went to Aswan and then took the overnight train to Cairo. After relaxing in Cairo for a day, we headed back to Dubai. It was truly a memorable experience and one of my best holidays to date.
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.