The stage is now set for the Middle East’s first ever ultra-trail running event with the start of the inaugural OMAN by UTMB just one month away.
With final preparations to the 137km course now complete, a cast of 455 registered local, regional and international runners are set to cross the spectacular non-stop challenge start line on Thursday, 29 November.
Specifically designed to take the ultra-trail athletes through some of the Sultanate’s most dramatic and remote mountain landscapes, the course follows traditional tracks and new built sections, with no less than 100km of the course having been improved in preparation for the ground-breaking event.
Care has been taken to prepare and signpost the route to provide a long-term legacy for both local communities and adventure sports tourists, a key objective for the country.
With entries exceeding expectations, OMAN by UTMB has attracted leading members of the international ultra-trail community – representing more than 50 countries – to an adventure described by UTMB Mont-Blanc race director Michel Poletti as “a must-do event”.
“We are delighted that so many international ultra-trail runners have seized the opportunity to come and see what OMAN by UTMB and our beautiful country has to offer,” said Salma Al Hashmi, chief marketing officer of event organisers Oman Sail, who are hosting the challenge with the support of UTMB International and the organisers of UTMB Mont-Blanc.
“The course is the match of anything to be found on the UTMB calendar and we believe that Oman’s striking beauty will speak for itself when the event gets underway.
“We also hope that the runners and their families and friends will make the most of their time in Oman to explore the Sultanate’s authentic Arabian culture and experience the warm welcome for which we are renowned.”
High-profile runners taking part include five who have taken on the role of event ambassadors. The most recent addition to this select group is Samantha Chan, who came third in the 2018 Gaoligong by UTMB 125km race in China, and is the best known female runner in Hong Kong.
She joins the 2016 Ultra Trail World Tour champion Gediminas Grinius, Diego ‘Zpeedy’ Pazos, the extrovert Swiss athlete also known as the ‘bow tie trail runner’, filmmaker Jason Schlarb, the top American finisher in the 2014 UTMB Mont Blanc, and Meredith Edwards, one of the leading and most popular female runners on the circuit.
Along with the rest of the impressive field they have been attracted by the natural beauty of Oman’s interior, alongside the prospect of tackling the 137km route which features long and technical climbs and a total vertical gain of more than 7,800m.
Starting in the historic town of Birkat Al Mawz, OMAN by UTMB takes in the 2,200m heights of Jebel Akhdar, the Green Mountain, with wadis, ridges, ancient villages and desert landscapes providing an immersive experience in a unique Arabian environment.
The leading runners are expected to complete the course in around 20 hours, having experienced temperatures ranging from 25°C at low level to 10°C in the mountains, possibly much colder at night.
Those taking part in OMAN by UTMB will enjoy preferential access to the heavily-oversubscribed UTMB Mont-Blanc, the pioneering forerunner of the whole ultra-trail experience which has now grown to global prominence.
OMAN by UTMB starts at Birkat Al Mawz, near Nizwa, at 19:30 on Thursday, 29 November.
What: OMAN by UTMB
When: November 29
Where: Birkat Al Mawz and various other places in Oman
Contact: Visit https://omanbyutmb.com for more information
Dubai’s thrilling adventure race, the Mercedes-Benz Challenge presented by Gargash, will be back this November and is gearing up to be more intense and exciting then ever.
Gargash Enterprises has partnered with Rush-A-Way to create a thrilling and adrenaline-fueled adventure around Dubai, where 100 competing teams will attempt to overcome seven exhilarating challenges set up in various corners of the city to win the grand prize – a Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV.
This event, which takes places on Friday, November 2, is the perfect weekend activity to get out, take on unique adventures with friends and discover new experiences and locations in Dubai.
It promises to be a day of high energy and great emotions, as participants will face seven challenges that will test speed, logic, fitness, accuracy, perseverance, patience and navigation. Teams will have no prior details of what are the challenges or where they are located and hence need to work as a team to strategise for each challenge, in order to complete them at their best speed.
A hundred teams comprising of two to four members will compete with other participating teams to tackle specially-crafted challenges set up around Dubai. For each challenge, teams will earn points based on how quickly they complete it. After completing each challenge, teams will receive location details for their next challenge. The team with the highest score at the finish line wins the grand prize.
Challenges from previous seasons involved paddleboarding at Jebel Ali Beach Resort, tackling an obstacle course, getting through an Escape Game in Al Barsha, hitting targets in an archery arcade in Al Quoz, speeding on go-karting circuits in Oud Metha, carrying vegetables sacks at Al Aweer vegetable market and making deliveries on bikes in JLT.
To sign up your team, visit rushawayuae.com/event/gargash. The registration fee is Dh300 per person and is inclusive of lunch and entertainment at a five-star property, breakfast and a welcome kit.
Participating teams need a Mercedes-Benz during the event to travel between challenge locations. If you don’t have one or can’t borrow one for the day, organisers have tied up with SIXT to offer special rental rates for the event.
What: Rush-A-Way Mercedes-Benz Challenge
Where: Across Dubai
When: Friday, November 2 from 08:00 to 15:30
Contact: Visit rushawayuae.com/event/gargash to sign up and for more information
With the weather cooling down, here’s your chance to compete in the opening race of the Mushrif Park Cross Country Run.
Taking place on Friday, November 2, participants can enjoy nature at its pre-dawn best as you head off road through Mushrif Park in Dubai.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, there are different distances to choose from with 1.5, 3, 5, 10 and 15km courses on the agenda.
It promises to be a challenging but thrilling event considering you will find yourself running on tree lined sandy roads and tracks and grass lawns. On top of that, you will also navigate your way along the tarred, sandy, pebbled and grass tacks while also enjoying the perfect surroundings of Mushrif Park.
Warren Van Der Merwe from Super Sports Events, organisers of the run, is optimistic of attracting big numbers in the second edition.
“Now in its second season, Super Sports is looking at growing the numbers to over 1500 runners over the three races,” said Van Der Merwe.
Entry costs Dh175 for adults and Dh125 for juniors. As part of Super Sports Events’ vision in promoting a healthy lifestyle, they are also giving a discount for families.
“We have also included a new distance for the younger runners, the 1.5km which is specifically for the Under-12’s and will encourage them to participate by starting them on a shorter distance,” he added. “There are also family discounts on offer, for parents and children in order to make it more financially viable for the whole family to join in the fun.”
All finishers will receive a shirt, medals, refreshments and a downloadable certificate. Once the race is finished, you can even stay behind and enjoy the park facilities.
“We also encourage everyone to make a morning of it and bring swim costumes and picnic baskets and take advantage of all that Mushrif Park has to offer,” said Van der Merwe. “It has some fantastic internal facilities of male and female swimming pools, equestrian centre, rope course, restaurants and picnic facilities for you to enjoy.”
What: Cross Country Run
Where: Mushrif Park
When: November 2
Contact: For more information or to register, visit www.supersportsuae.com