3rd Oman Desert Marathon: 165KM Immersed in the Vast, Magical Desert
165 kilometres. 6 self-sufficient stages. 8 days. One exceptional, desert marathon adventure.
A group of ultra-marathoners will brace the hot and humid summer during the third Oman Desert Marathon, held from 6 to 13 November 2015. Aside from water provided at the checkpoints and sleeping bags at the camps, each runner has to be completely self-sufficient.
This is not for the faint-hearted; carrying all the equipment and food one needs for five days is a big challenge, even more so than running the 165 km distance. But this, says organisers, is fundamental to experiencing the authentic desert life.
Encapsulating the magical experience of living in the desert, the race itself will take place between 7 and 12 November. During which time, runners will cross the Oman Desert in six stages of 21 km, 22 km, 25 km, 27 km, 40 km and 30 km within specific time limits.
Many top runners of the Marathon Des Sables choose the Oman Desert Marathon as one of the best places to train. The race course also gives less experienced runners the opportunity to test themselves and their equipment before embarking on longer challenges.
For safety reasons, the organisers will be monitoring the runners and the race from viewpoints that will not interfere with the sense of vastness and loneliness of the desert, while at the same time make sure that nobody gets lost and that everybody can receive help promptly.
On Ancient Tracks
Touted as one of the most extraordinary sporting events on sand, the extreme challenge takes ultra-runners through spectacular scenery. The Oman Desert, with its vast sand dunes extending beyond the horizon and lush palms lining the crystalline Oasis, is mesmerising. Well-known for their hospitality, the locals bring to life the spirit of the ancient caravans, encouraging the athletes amidst the amazing atmosphere.
The desert adventure begins the first stage with an Omani send-off, drumming off with festive music performed by villagers while camels and local children lead runners out from the start.
Overcoming a variety of landscapes and sand conditions, runners will course along olden caravan paths, cross canyons, feel the soft sand in the high red dunes, and behold the sight of grazing camels and goats. As part of their nomad desert experience, there will also be a night stage, where runners will be immersed in the magic of the desert illuminated by the stars.
There are only a few bibs left, but if you're fit and ready for a challenge like this, you could sign up for it online by 15 October 2015. Or, if you're intrigued, consider training for next year's edition and, for now, indulge in this blogger's detailed account of her experience running the 2014 race.
For more information about the race route and travel programme, visit the official Oman Desert Marathon website.