27 Apr The dream of racing in the desert. But where to start?
Watching the dunes of the desert, and those runners with tired but serene and satisfied faces we often think: “Sooner or later I will be there!” Sure, but from words to facts sometimes the way is quite long and hard.
The Oman Desert Marathon is the perfect race for those who want to discover a pristine wilderness and for those approaching for the first time a self-supported race in the desert. The core values of this competition marry perfectly the needs of both this runners.
Let’s have a look at the top 3 questions to answer before considering to run in the desert.
I run marathons and half marathons, sometimes trail run, how many kilometers do I have to run to participate to a 165 km staged race in the desert?
One of our runners, Elisabeth Barnes, fourth woman to Marathon des Sables, after the Oman Desert Marathon commented: “despite having 100 km less of MdS, this race is much more challenging”. This is because a less compact sand and a varied and sandy soil have a more significant impact than the amount of kilometers. More challenging, it does not mean more kilometers. In the desert it makes little sense to speak just of “kilometers”. A rocky and compact plateau, is a land where you can run smoothly, as opposed to a soft and steep dune, where even the top runners walk. For those who have already prepared races, like a half marathon or a marathon, it will not be difficult to prepare the Oman Desert Marathon, and the work to be done will be mainly on endurance. So don’t worry about the distance. No need to be an extra skilled ultra runner. But be careful not to underestimate the preparation. We are available to advise individually our competitors, to make suggestions on how to best prepare the race. In addition to this, once you enroll, you will be able to talk to the other competitors on our facebook group, dedicated to chat and race preparation.
Is Oman a safe place where to go?
Oman is very safe. There were no attacks or episodes of intolerance towards westerners. Even the internal crime level is very low, almost non-existent. This is for two reasons: the first is related to religion. Oman follows a moderate Islam that contemplates the concept of forgiveness and tolerance, a religion open to the others that are seen as brothers. The second reason of the stability and security of Oman is the policy of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who has invested in education and in culture to grow Oman as a peaceful country, and projected into the future. As if this is not enough, the Oman Desert Marathon is organized and managed by a local team, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport and with police and the Army medical services. Support of the government and local communities provides a security level equal, if not greater, than the one which you would get in Europe or America.
Where I will be sleeping? What are we eating?
You will sleep in tents. You can decide if sleeping alone and bring your tent (which will be assembled and will dismount independently, but that we will carry), or to stay in Bedouin tents as normally happends in the desert. You will eat what you have in your backpack, what you brought with you. Everyone has their own tastes and habits. One unique rule: always try your food before coming to the desert, and never come with a feeding strategy you didn’t experiment at home. Also on this point the staff of the race will help you individually on the phone, by mail or facebook, helping in the best race preparation.
The advice we give to all, also for other desert races, even to the most experienced runner should not improvise. Do not leave the organization of the trip at the last moment. You will not need grueling workouts and exhausting enhancement programs. To fully enjoy this experience, however, we suggest careful planning and gradual preparation. A constant contact with the organization, which is committed to respond to the email, the Facebook group, phone or via Skype guarantees tutoring at 360 degrees, that will take you to a unique experience and inspiring to carry in your heart for a lifetime