Oman Desert Marathon 2014 – 2nd Edition

Back in the summer I signed up to do my first multi-stage desert race; the Oman Desert Marathon. I figured I needed something epic that would scare me enough to keep me training through the hot, humid summer in Oman. As the weeks and months progressed, I realised that it was actually quite an epic undertaking that I’d let myself in for; 165km through the Oman Desert (the Wahiba sands) over the course of 6 days. This included carrying all the food I would need for these six days in my rucksack (to a minimum of 2000kcal per day) in addition to certain mandatory items of safety kit (venom pump, 1st aid kit, safety blanket, whistle, compass etc.).

Last minute testing of the sand gaiters, trying to work out how all this was going to fit into my bag, which surprisingly it did!

Last minute testing of the sand gaiters, trying to work out how all this was going to fit into my bag, which surprisingly it did!

I met the other competitors at the airport on the Friday morning and after a bit of a wait (which we later found out was to wait for other flights coming in), we headed off on the coach towards the Wahiba sands and the Arabian Oryx Camp; our home for the first night (and last 2 nights after the race). We were greeted with a traditional Omani welcome; dancing, drums and music, followed by dates, coffee and Halwa (an Omani sweet dish made with tapioca starch, ghee, sugar, rosewater, saffron, cardamom and nuts). After a buffet lunch, it was chill-out time, or for those people who had flown in, time to pack their race bags and sort out kit. We had a kit/registration/medical check before dinner, with a chance to weigh our bags. After being told we didn’t need to carry our sleeping bags in the end (they would provide desert bags for us), my rucksack weighed in at bang on 6.0kg without water. If I was to do it again, I reckon I could get it down to about 5.0kg based on what I learnt from this race. Another attack on the buffet, then time to settle down for the night, ready for a 7am depart to the local village of Wasil which is where Stage 1 of the race was to start and finish. Continue reading

October training – 6 weeks to go!

Terrifyingly this now takes me up to the beginning of October’s training – hampered even further by fieldwork, but managed my longest individual run in addition to my longest distance weekly total for running…..

Week 1 {September} / October:

  • {Sunday – 2×14.6mi road bike commute (44:35, 45:52)}
  • {Monday – 2×14.6mi road bike commute (41:43, 46:42)}
  • {Tuesday – 14.6mi road bike commute (46:09), 3.4mi bike to run, 7.9mi hill rep run (1:17:35, 9:51/mi)}
  • Wednesday – 14.6mi road bike commute (45:22), 3.0mi bike to meeting, 8.2mi run with pack (1:21:21, 9:54/mi)
  • Thursday – 14.6mi run commute with pack (2:31:20, 10:20/mi)
  • Friday – 1.1mi run to lift, 13.1mi social run (2:10:09, 9:58/mi)
  • Saturday – Stretching and rest.
  • Total run mileage: 43.8 miles (70.5km)
  • Total bike mileage: 94 miles (151.3km)

    October week 1 - epic fail on post-commute recovery/clothing combination - calf guards & skinny jeans! Morning run commute to work. Post-Friday social smoothies

    October week 1 – epic fail on post-commute recovery/clothing combination – calf guards & skinny jeans! Morning run commute to work. Post-Friday social smoothies

This was a pretty heavy week for me in terms of mileage, and a hot week weather-wise at that. It also highlighted to me how much easier it is to run with other people when you are doing long distance rather than on your own. The Thursday long run I did on my own, along a very boring straight road to work. The Friday morning I ran a slightly shorter run (by 1.5miles), but with a group. Even with more chatting as we ran, and feeling like I was running slower to match other people’s paces, it was still a fast paced run than my Thursday run. Running on my own is definitely going to be a big challenge for me during the Oman Desert Marathon. Continue reading