MUSCAT: Muscat’s perfect winter climate gave the 1,300 runners of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon a performance boost with acclaim for the route, improved finish times and large crowds pointing to a successful event and a strong future. Setting out from Al Mouj Muscat, Oman’s leading lifestyle destination, the runners enjoyed cool conditions to give their races a brisk start and Belgian athlete Pierre Breuer maintained his rapid pace through to the end posting a time of 02:42:51, eight minutes faster than the winning marathon time in 2016.
Omani runner Amer Al Amri finished in second place while 2016 winner of the women’s marathon Asta Parker defended her 2016 title with a time of 03:23:46. Another home-grown runner Abdullah Al Qarini won the men’s half marathon with Birgit Schulz taking the women’s medal and Yunos Abdullah Al Jabri, also from Oman knocked a full five minutes off last year’s 10 km time with Maria Markovicova the winner of the women’s event.
With a spread of 74 nationalities either taking part in the race or supporting it, the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon had proved to be an important event for promoting the country, said Her Excellency Maitha al Mahrouqiya — Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Chairwoman of Oman Sail.
“An event like this where we have participation from Oman and the region is very important for tourism, promoting sports in Oman and working with the government’s vision to support sport. We hope in the coming years it will be even bigger,” she said.
The 6th edition of the Muscat Marathon has broken all previous records with an unprecedented number of entries after Oman Sail and Muscat Road Runners joined forces to expand the event. Their success is driven by the Tanfeedh initiative to focus on sports tourism as part of a national programme for enhancing economic diversification.
David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, who were joint organisers of the marathon with Muscat Road Runners said it had been a great success. “Muscat is a fantastic place for a marathon especially at this time of year when the conditions are perfect for runners.
“For future years, we have big ambitions for the race which I am confident will come to fruition, as the government and the Royal Oman Police have been fully supportive and have confirmed their future support. Furthermore, our sponsors have already confirmed for 2018 and the working relationship between Oman Sail and Muscat Road Runners is extremely complimentary.”
Ahmed al Malki, Chairman of Muscat Road Runners added: “We had twice as many people running this year than last year, so the event is growing really fast. We are looking forward to seeing it become a must-do running event on a global scale and continuing to work closely with Oman Sail to make that happen”
Al Mouj CEO, Nasser Masoud al Sheibani, added his delight at the success of the 6th Muscat Marathon: “With its warm and inviting culture and amazingly diverse landscape, there is no better place to complete a first marathon than right here in Muscat, Oman.
“At Al Mouj Muscat we aim to offer outstanding lifestyle and leisure experiences, but more importantly we aim to improve the experiences of all those who come to the city. We are delighted to support an event which mirrors Oman’s unique culture and genuine heritage and displays its unmatched beauty to the world. Congratulations to all the participants.”
While the runners were running, the race village buzzed with live entertainment including DJ Adam Cole, traditional Omani band, Sawahel, dancers from the Kings United Dance Institute, and a performance by The Drummer Parade by New Heights Agency Oman. A portion of the race village was also dedicated to the BP Souk, where local SME’s (small to medium enterprises) were provided with a platform to showcase their products and services to visitors and participants of the race.
Returning runners were provided with free massages and Cryotherapy sessions by The Wellness Center and Blood Pressure and Sugar tests at the first aid station set-up by Sobeh’s Medical Center. Other supporters of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon include national carrier Oman Air, Muscat Festival, Tanuf, Marine Pool, Elegant Colours, the Royal Omani Amateur Radio Society and Strabag.