MUSCAT, MAY 15 - Event Global Ambassador Paula Radcliffe laid out a clear challenge for Omanis to get involved in the 2020 Al Mouj Muscat Marathon on January 17 and 18 next year, saying “2020, I’m in it, are you?” Radcliffe joined a stellar cast of Omani athletes and sports stars including Aston Martin racing driver Ahmed al Harthy, 9.9 sec Olympic sprinter Barakat al Harthy, proven World Circuit tennis ace Fatma al Nabhani, and local Equine Showjumping star Sultan al Touqi, via video link from London. Also represented were football legend Ali al Habsi, and Yachting Olympic hopeful Musab al Hadi.
The Kempinski Hotel was the venue for the launch of the 2020 event, where Nasser al Sheibani, CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, said: “The Muscat Marathon is a great match for our ambitions to promote a healthy lifestyle for our multi-national residents and many visitors. It has become a great spectacle which has been embraced by the community as a whole.”
David Graham, CEO of OmanSail, drew many of the threads of the other speakers together when he explained that the World Health Organization (WHO), and Oman Ministry of Health (MoH) , actively supported the active lifestyle message of the event, saying, “The more active the youth, the greater the society,” and offering that an incredible 4,316 Omani residents had taken part last year, and that the number would surely increase for the 2020 renewal as the event continues its “impressive upward curve.” Graham also emphasised the economic benefits to the Sultanate, with significant tourist participation and visitor interest last time, and an increase likely in that sector. Also, he said that they had raised significant funds for charitable causes in Oman through the Fun Run, and he said, “like Paula Radcliffe, we’re looking forward to the 2020 version.”
Much of the focus, according to OmanSail Head of Communications Assim al Saqri, is on the healthy lifestyle theme that has been an objective of the organisers since day one. “We have created the #RunWithUs as a way of reaching out to the youth of the Sultanate, and with these amazing sports stars coming on board, we are looking to play a meaningful part in the government’s fight against hypertension, diabetes, obesity and the like, by engaging young Omanis in ‘their space,’ so to speak. We also prioritise the general community experience, and want everybody to play their role, whether as parents, support crews, or spectators.
Organisers OmanSail certainly don’t appear to flinch from the ‘big jobs,’ and indicated that not only are they running an event with thousands of participants, hundreds of Royal Oman Police and vehicles, hundreds of Muscat Municipality staff, medical staff, international media, their own team of event managers, catering and logistics, and probably upwards of 500 volunteers, this could conceivably be Muscat, and Oman’s greatest ever sporting event! Race Director Glynn Broomberg pointed too to OmanSail’s diversity, and proven track record, in managing events such as the UTMB Ultra Race, the Haute Route Cycling event, Extreme Yachting, but agreed the Muscat Marathon will be massive in 2020.
What will remain for most of us as an abiding memory, is of Radcliffe finishing her race then repeatedly jogging back to run the final 200 metres with hundreds of normal, ordinary, everyday, often first time participants. In 2020 maybe you can be one of those in January?
“These sports stars talk the younger generation’s language, share their interests, and live in the same ‘bubble.’ It’s perfect,” said one enthusiast, “and if I was their age, I would be right into it!” #RunWithUs