Saleem Abdullatiff is no ordinary Muscat Marathon Half-Marathon competitor, in fact he, and his entire family will take the stage for the festival of running at Al Mouj on February 21 and 22.
Saleem is the General Manager of Enterprise Marketing at Omantel, and the high performance aspects of work and play don’t stop there either, as his Turkish born wife, Asuman, is the Head of Proprietary Investments at a leading local banking establishment, so these two really do rank as ‘movers and shakers,’ on the Omani corporate scene. “We are serious about our careers of course, but we do also try to be a bit adventurous,” he said, in something of an understatement.
So by day, he is a corporate warrior, but in the evenings and at the weekends, you wouldn’t find anyone more removed from their corporate persona, except perhaps Asuman, as the duo take on challenge after challenge, embracing perhaps, the oft quoted philosophy that, “A healthy lifestyle and exercise don’t only change your body, but your mind, your attitude, and your mood.” Karting, rock climbing, squash and half-marathons seem to inspire even greater achievements among this delightful trio of lifestyle advocates.
The couple’s pretty young daughter Selen, aged 8, hasn’t entered the same rarified work atmosphere yet, but given the positive influences around her, it’s a safe bet she won’t be flipping burgers when she grows up, and she won’t be a couch potato either. “Last year Selen ran in the 1km kids event, and had a time of 4 minutes, 26 seconds, and that made us extremely proud. Best of all she felt good about it too, and good about herself, and this year she will try the 2km event.”
“Leading a healthy lifestyle is our first objective,” said Saleem, “and if we can compete with others it’s even better.” He went on to explain that they like to set good examples, for their community, colleagues, and their daughter. “Two years ago, Asuman and I ran in the 10km event and really enjoyed it, so last year we ran in the Half-Marathon, where I almost cracked the 2 hour barrier, missing out by 90 seconds, so hopefully I can record a sub 2 hours this time. We have different objectives, but our plan is to run the early stages together, get into a good rhythm, and then see how things go.”
An avid sportsman, and like all Omanis he was keen on football as a kid, but admitted to never really embracing the game. “I did support Manchester United while I was studying at Manchester University, but now I really only support the Omani National Team, the Red Warriors.”
He explained further that during his teens he discovered the lightning fast indoor sport of squash and competed locally, mostly in the Muscat Squash League where his team began in Group E, but eventually won the Group A title, “So that was quite an achievement.”
“Around five years ago I got into karting, and I now race as part of the Omantel Karting Team, that competes locally and regionally across a variety of endurance formats from 1 hour to 24 hour races.”
Last week, Saleem’s marathon training took a back seat as he competed in the biggest karting event in Oman’s history, the MENA RMC Championship, where he proudly represented Oman, the eventual winners. It’s not all been plain sailing however, as he revealed that competing in the same event last year left him with a broken clavicle, admitting ruefully, “As a consequence I raced this year with an extra metal plate and seven screws holding me together.” His ‘need for speed’ is not yet quenched however, as he has started riding a motor bike (of course!).
This family is what can probably be termed, active to the max, but Saleem is adamant that “Everyone can, and should maintain healthy lifestyles, for so many reasons, unless there are medical issues of course, and you don’t have to run in a marathon to embrace it.” In fact he made a good point, emphasising that, “If you just take it one kilometre at a time, you will see the benefits for yourself.”