Muscat, Feb 22 – Family Day at the Al Mouj Marathon 2020 showcased thousands of Omani children, probably taking part in an athletic event for the first time, a legend in the field of marathon running, a youthful star of running and the social media. Again a poignant moment was observed of the passing of Sultan Qaboos, and the coronation of His Majety Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, as a large banner passed over the start of the Fun Run for all participants to touch, as a special memory. David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail was absolutely delighted with the turnout for the Family Fun Day, and the organisation was delighted with the athlete’s response to a new integrated event, the Two Medal Challenge, which as the name says, challenged competitors to complete two events over the two-days.
Other features were the local social media influencers such as Mohammed al Araimi and Mohammed al Noufli at the heart of the action, competing in the 5km Fun Run along with sprinter Barakat al Harthi. Tennis star Fatma al Nabhani mingling with the lively spectator crowds. Nabhani reported “Some stiffness,” from her 10km run the previous day, “but I’m so glad I did the 10km, even though I wasn’t that keen, and I will definitely run again next year’’. Paula Radcliffe, the World Record holder in the marathon for an amazing 14 years, again joined the young competitors, running part of the distance with hundreds during their events, including her daughter Isla (13) and son Raphael (10).
Saying, “Where we live in the South of France has been great for the kids, as with the wonderful climate it encourages them to be active outdoors’’. She went on to agree that here in Oman, with its even better climate, the beaches and open spaces, it’s even better, and these races today a way of showcasing, for the younger generation, the way to enhance every lifestyle’’.
One runner who thrived on Radcliffe’s presence in the 5km Fun Run field, the first event of the day, was Stephanie MacLeod, a PDO employee, who had competed in the marathon the previous day, but who found the energy to not only win the Women’s Division, but to do so by a decent margin.
“It’s a really good, flat course, and I’m absolutely ‘chuffed’ to win it, especially after running alongside Paula for a while I felt like I could run even faster!” Ironically, MacLeod actually competed in the colours of the Bedford Harriers, Radcliffe’s former club. The Men’s 5km Fun Run was won by Omani Ahmed al Amari in a time close to 17:30.
The Boy’s race over 3km resulted in a popular victory for the little 11- year-old Osama Salim al Rahbi, from Asim School, who won by a clear margin, even taking hi-fives from the spectators over the final stages as he surged clear. The girls event over 3km was won by Nour Ben Daw of Libya.
Another popular winner was Hia al Lawati of Oman in the Girl’s 2km, who said she was, “Tired, but happy’’.
The same sentiments were attributed to Hamed al Hassani after winning the Boy’s 2km, while Eugenie Dellanoy from Lycee Francaise, the French School in Muscat, finished first in the Girl’s 2km. Mina Soldani won the Girls 1km and Or Nahur the boy’s event. The Most Active School Award was won by the Knowledge Gate International School (KGIS) in Seeb.
Taking part more important
At the end of the day however, it was about taking part rather than winning and losing, and the approach to the day was typified by Dema Abdulazim, who was there with all of her three children, Adnan (12) in the 3km, Basma (11) in the 2km, and Omar (7) in the 1km run. It’s definitely a family day by name and by nature, and with food-stalls, drink stands and entertainment in all shapes and forms, from a UFC Gym to break-dancers, there was something for everyone. And from an even wider community perspective one sees the individual, societal and national benefits of the outstanding ‘Muscateers’ initiative launched by Oman Sail, where hundreds of volunteers across hundreds of jobs during the weekend immersed themselves in being a key part of a major event.
Their tasks included marshaling, race-pack handling and custody, feed station support, event and media support, and the event would not be possible without them.
Mouayed al Busaidi, the volunteer coordinator, was working with Majid and Abdulaziz who explained that, “This work helps our society, because sharing is caring, changes our routines a wee bit, and changes how we look at others.”
Another group of Reem, Safa, Sheikha, Ghayatha and Shaima, working at the bag drop, said, “We are getting practical lessons on how to manage time and interacting with so many different people from everywhere.” Finally Munthir, Mulham, Manal and Maryam offered that they were, “Arabs, Islamic and proud of both, and want to show that we are positive young people’’.
‘Muscateers’ seeks to identify and mentor reliable, responsible and capable young people who can learn new skills and learn to work under pressure in the midst of significant international events, to deliver quality event experiences to people from all over the world. These young people were all over the event location in their brightly colored shirts, and all they want from you is a smile.
The ‘Muscateers’ really are a positive reflection of the attitudes of this generation of young Omanis.
So the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon 2020 has been run and won for another year, and is surely achieving its aims of promoting healthy lifestyles, sports, cultural and activity tourism within the Sultanate of Oman. But best of all, it’s an incomparable family fun day.