Long-distance running including marathon and half-marathon running is an acid test of endurance anywhere but Oman’s Hamdan al Khatri has leaped ahead with his efforts in France last month.
The 29-year-old Hamdan participated in the UTMB Chamonix (France) event called the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and finished in the 202nd position out of a total of 1,900 runners.
Hamdan proved his mettle in the CCC championship that spans a distance of 101 kilometres and a strenuous ascent of 6,100 metres. The Omani completed the distance in the race with a timing of 16:47:45.
In an exclusive telephonic interview with Oman Daily Observer, Hamdan shared his thoughts about the challenging experience in France.
“It is much more difficult than anything that I have ran before including the Desert Marathon. The terrain is topsy-turvy (up and down), mountainous and very strenuous while going uphill especially. The weather was creating problems as well with the rain, cold and chilly conditions with a temperature of 10 degrees. I had to wear waterproof jackets,’’ Hamdan added.
It must have been a huge learning curve for the Omani lad as he was competing with some of the best trail runners in the world.
Hamdan certainly vouches for the learnings when he says that he was richer after competing at such a high level.
“What I learnt the most after participating at the UTMB Chamonix event was the mentality of challenging myself more and pushing myself. We have to keep raising the bar and I saw that if we have conviction then anything is possible. I saw people of all ages running at the event and also people with disabilities and difficulties. There were people with artificial legs running and that was really inspiring to watch,’’ revealed Hamdan.
“I also had a chat with a 69-year-old man and he was advising me about the kind of diet I should take prior to the race. He stressed upon the fact that I should take food that has a high content of Vitamin B12. There were different kinds of inputs I was receiving from different runners and that was helpful for me,’’ the trail runner said.
Reminiscing about the start of his running career, Hamdan stated the love affair started in the year 2015.
“It was mainly for fitness reasons that I started running in 2015. I was in the UK for a five-month course when I participated in a 10k run in Bournemouth. Later, I started associating myself with the Muscat Road Runners group and started taking part with them,’’ he added.
Hamdan has been an active participant at the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon 2017 and 2018 editions and has come up with impressive performances.
In the 2017 edition, Hamdan finished 20th overall and was second in the Omani section with a timing of two hours and 55 minutes.
The timing took a beating in the 2018 edition because of the exertion from another event that year but Hamdan managed an overall 24th place finish. In the Omani category, he slipped to the third spot.
Hamdan has also featured in the Oman Desert Marathon in 2017 and 2018 as well and spoke about the unique experience.
“It is very different when you are running on soft sand, the technique is different. We need special kind of shoes as well,’’ he added.
“However, it is not as punishing as trail running since in the Desert Marathon we have six stages and that gives you ample breaks and breathing space. In trail running, we are running throughout the day and that can be really challenging,’’ Hamdan stated.
Hamdan trains by himself and practises his long distance running in Jabal Akhdar, Jabal Shams and Wadi Bani Kharous.
The endurance runner trains six days a week and runs distances of 10 km, 15 km, 20 km depending on the requirement of the situation.
Hamdan’s next major assignment, apart from the Oman by UTMB event in November, would be in March when he participates in an event in China where he would look to compete over a distance of 170 km.
And next year’s UTMB in Chamonix, France would be the biggest challenge for him to better this year’s performance and make a significant mark.
Hamdan in numbers
Hamdan al Khatri
in UTMB Chamonix (France)
101 km and 6,100 metres ascent
202 from 1,900 runners
Ranking by race distance: 130
Muscat Marathon performance
20th overall, 2nd Omani
24th overall, 3rd Omani
Oman Desert Marathon 2018
Distance: 165 kms
8th overall, 3rd Omani