An Omani athlete’s mission of taming the ‘Beast’

Oman’s own version of Indiana Jones, local adventure athlete Riyadh Al Hinai, is taking on a new challenge at the end of the month when ‘The Beast,’ the Omani version of Europe’s toughest mountain race, is staged for the second time. Admitting to some trepidation, as he will be stepping very much outside his comfort zone, Al Hinai explained that his first objective is to challenge himself in a different way, his second to work on improving his overall fitness, and his third to complete the course inside 10 hours. “My training is going well,” he said yesterday, “and I am running 30-50 kms solo each day to simulate the race conditions. It’s not easy, certainly, but it is another challenge that I am really embracing.”

The Muscat-based Civil Engineer and Project Manager recalled his earliest days hiking in the hills and mountains of Oman as being the first thing to whet his appetite for adventure, and that caving, potholing, climbing, rafting, canoeing, diving, kayaking, have all proven diverse ways of increasing his fitness, and therefore developing his ability to good decisions under pressure and improve his achievements. He cited his recent, well-documented 700kms of cycling in Morocco, followed by a challenging mountain climb, as an example of having to function effectively for long periods, and still make the right decisions at the right time.
“I am currently working with youngsters, as a personal trainer, teaching them how to cycle and hopefully teaching them good life skills and developing their characters,” he said, “and apart from that it is pretty much challenging my body in one way and supporting it in another. He touched on the massive nutritional challenge of the UTMB®, hoping that he is “getting it right by going sugar-free, eating special foods, fruits and vegetables, taking on proteins and vitamins. No pizzas for me,” he laughed.
The 2019 OMAN by UTMB® offers a fresh challenge for new athlete/adventurers to the sport, and is perfect for those who want to ‘taste’ the thrill of the longer event, maybe as a teaser for ‘The Beast,’ in subsequent years. This new event begins and ends in Al Hamra negotiating tracks, roads and trails to an elevation of 2300meters. After slogging their way uphill to Qiyat, competitors will traverse the plateau before the (relatively) high-speed descent through Misfat Al Abriyeen’s terraced farmlands, plantations and wadis, and finally onto the finish line in Al Hamra.
Event organizer OmanSail’s Communications Manager, Assim Al Saqri explained, “OMAN by UTMB® receives the vital support of local communities along the route, who work alongside specialist teams from Oman Sail to improve and enhance sections of the course and to help create a long-term legacy which will benefit the region for decades to come. Hundreds of local volunteers will assist us throughout the event, and this offers them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, and to hone their ability to interact with other nationalities and cultures. They are a significant part of our community-based initiatives, and reaching out to the Dakhilyah region, through its youth, is extremely rewarding for us here, at OmanSail.”
And Riyadh Al Hinai, all he needs now is his shoes! “I ordered special shoes from France, and I have my fingers and toes crossed they will be here soon,” he laughed. One feels slightly nervously, as this is one race you wouldn’t want to take on with sub-standard equipment. ‘The Beast,’ OMAN by UTMB® is one event for which you need everything going for you. So Mister Postman, get those shoes to Oman’s adventure icon as quickly as you can… Don’t make the man wait, as he’s a man on a mission!