Muscat, Feb 19 – The inaugural Himam Trail Run, with the local Golden Tulip Hotel as its Gold Sponsors, over 50km of Al Dakhiliyah tracks and trails, took place yesterday. PR spokesman for the organisers, Assim al Saqri, said, “The Himam is an initiative under the umbrella of the Nizwa Club, the community group that provided so many support volunteers to the UTMB event in the areas of stewarding, feed stations, guides and community relations. There was so much enthusiasm for the UTMB, and many of the locals thought it would be nice to create their own event to maintain that enthusiasm. When local athletes were canvassed, there was excellent support from there as well. Unfortunately, the revised Covid-19 restrictions meant that entries were restricted, but with 76 competitors, of six nationalities, and including four female competitors, these are very heartening numbers.”
Cousins Marwan and Khalifa al Saqri were among the ‘first-time’ runners and saw the event as “a step towards more demanding races.”
Jaber al Fahdi, a student, said he was “looking forward to the experience,” while experienced trail runners Manchester’s (UK) Chris Smith, and Auckland’s (NZ) Butch Theron were looking forward to emulating their UTMB experiences, “by achieving good times, and enjoying getting back to nature.”
Women too were participating with the diminutive Suhaila al Tobi stepping out of her software engineer’s persona to compete. “I feel I’m graduating from the UTMB 10km race to this one, and I want to enjoy myself.” At the other end of the spectrum Habiba al Balushi only got herself involved to support her work team, but laughed, “and somehow, now I’m running!” Rigel Cedeno of Venezuela, and more serious, admitted to “not having done much running lately, so I’m a bit intimidated, but I’ll be okay with my music to help me.”
The race began in front of the historic Bayt al Rudaydah Fort and competitors wound their way to Sayq, high on the Jabal, before re-tracing their steps to the finish again at the start point. The clear winner was Armed Forces athlete Sami al Saeedi, who covered the 52kms in a creditable 4:51:23.6s. The 27-year-old runner shrugged off exhaustion immediately after finishing the event to comment that “mostly the race was easy,” laughing as he explained further, “especially on the way down the mountain. But the section from Salut to Sayq was very steep and difficult. I’m very happy, but very tired.”
Results: 1st: Sami al Saeedi, 4:51:23.6; 2nd: Saleh al Saeedi 5:09:51.4; 3rd: Abdul Nasser al Riyami, 5:33:58.3.
“The Himam Trail Running Race aimed to provide a competitive atmosphere for all, where experienced runners aimed for personal bests and podium places. While others tested their fitness and enhanced their experience, physical and mental fitness. For the beginners and inexperienced runners, the organisers hoped for a beautiful adventure and an opportunity for self-discovery, where everyone was a winner.”