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Oman by UTMB: The start of ‘The Beast’


NIZWA, Nov 28 - Oman’s most challenging ultra-distance race, the Oman by UTMB, over 170kms of the mountains, cliffs, tracks and canyons of the mighty Jebel Al Akhdhar and the towering Jebel Shams, began on Thursday in the normally quiet town of Birkat Al Mouz. More than a hundred runners set out on this ultimate challenge, with Frenchman Olivier Roman the hot favourite in the men’s event following an earlier win over 220kms, in the Great Pyrenees Tour Trail in August. He would be a fitting winner too, as he only took up running as part of his cancer survival regime.

Alfred Pearce-Higgins too emerges among the favoured group after his 5th in the inaugural event last year and appeared very relaxed prior to the event. Yosuke Uno has the credentials too of being a finisher of the gruelling Chamonix UTMB event, so must come into contention, even though he admitted to being “nervous and excited,” about the demands of the Omani version of the UTMB. Oman too has its competitors with Khusaif al Zakwani competing, virtually in his backyard, as he lives and works on Jebel Al Akhdhar, while Omar Hassan was also buoyant about his prospects.

In the women’s event over the ultra-distance, Kaori Niwa, a professional runner from Japan is the form competitor, coming off a brilliant 2nd in a similar event over 330 kms in Andorra. Later in the evening, Nadhira al Harthy, Everest conqueror, and a favourite daughter of Oman, lined up in the second event of three, the 130km event, with a 50km event starting at 7am this morning Friday, at Al Hamra, where all the events will finish this afternoon, and a family day of three events will take place on Saturday.

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