With over 6,000 runners aged seven to 73 years from 86 countries and eight races spread over two days, the 2018 edition is set to make and break a few records. Alvin Thomas warms up for Al Mouj Muscat Marathon
When 28-year-old marathon runner Dominic applied for a spot in the 2018 Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, little did he know what he was signing up for. A year ago – from among the 1,300 participants – the young runner was placed in the top 20 runners – a feat he says he is very proud of.
But this year around, the stakes are raised beyond what he – or what several others – would ever have imagined. The third installation of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon will see a total of 6,051 runners (!), which is almost six times greater than that of last time.
“I think it will be quite a challenge to achieve top results, this year, especially if you’re not prepared. The talents who are running will definitely be among the best in the world – and you must be ready to take them on,” says Dominic.
“Last year’s event was splendid, and we couldn’t imagine it to get any bigger. But the organisers have startled us and made us proud,” he adds.
Little wonder then that the organisers are hosting the event over two whole days. And when the event kicks off January 18 with the Kids’ Run, it will become the largest sporting tournament to be hosted in the country.
The Kids’ Run will be conducted in age categories and will feature three courses: 1km for children aged 7 and 8; 2.5km for 9- and 10-year-olds; and a 4km for youngsters aged 11 and 12. More than 2,372 young runners have reportedly entered for the Kids’ Run.
This will then be followed by the Half-Marathon, Marathon, Marathon Relay, 10km run and the Charity Fun Run (5km).
The starting time for the events are as follows:
Predictably, this event has also gained traction abroad: Participants are now flying in from other countries – 86 countries to be specific – to take part in the event.
The entry list shows substantial numbers hailing from nations such as India, Britain, the Philippines and France, closely followed by significant groupings from South Africa, the US, Pakistan and Ireland, along with hundreds more from countries ranging from Australia, Brazil and China to Venezuela, Wales and Yemen.
Even impressive is that for the first time, Al Mouj Muscat Marathon will be recognised by the world running’s international governing body AIMS (The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races).
In addition, you can also expect to see some record-breaking performances, as athletes can now push the boundaries in the precisely measured race courses.
“Oman Sail was delighted to become involved with such a well-founded event in 2017 and we are happy to have been successful in building on that and broadening its appeal for 2018,” says Salma Al Hashmi, the Chief Marketing Officer of Oman Sail.
“It has always been part of our pioneering mission to contribute to the social and economic development of the Sultanate of Oman, and the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon works on all counts. It is a celebration of health and fitness and it is the perfect opportunity to showcase Oman’s particular blend of beauty and culture to international visitors,” she adds.
First held in 2012 with just 135 competitors, the Muscat Marathon has gone from strength to strength. Organised for its first five years by the local Muscat Road Runners organisation, the event has now extended its international reach thanks to the event management expertise of Oman Sail and the support of title sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, the renowned waterfront destination.
We’re also told that the youngest runner will be among the seven-year-olds in the 1km Kids’ Run, while the eldest entrant will be 73-year-old Edwidge Van Den Assem – who is coming in from the UAE.
But who will take the top spot is a question that we will have to wait and see.