Muscat: Hamdan al Khatri has been at the forefront of Trail Running in Oman and is one of the pioneers of the niche sport in the Sultanate.
The shy, unassuming lad has been on a single minded mission since last year and that was to better his own personal record in Trail Running.
Having competed in the 170k event at the UTMB Oman in 2019, Hamdan had racked up a runner-up finish in a timing of 68 hours.
To push his body and mind further and test the limits of his endurance, Hamdan aimed at holding his own running challenge in 150k and wrapping up the race in under 30 hours.
The uncompromising and dedicated runner that he is, Hamdan closed out the race in 28 hours and 54 minutes. The race began at the Bayt al Rudaydah Castle at Birkat al Mouz, Nizwa and thereafter Hamdan winded himself to the geographically challenging terrain of Jabal Akhdhar and Jabal Shams.
In an exclusive interview with Oman Daily Observer, Hamdan al Khatri outlined his motivation and drive to take up this tough challenge.
“I am doing this for multiple reasons. First of all, to improve my level compared to last year. I need more workouts. Second, to support those who are interested in trail running, I would like to inspire them with my efforts. Thirdly, we are trying to do something for the environment. Some people don’t care about the environment, so we are trying to educate them. Also, we are trying to bring some sponsors for Omani runners,’’ Hamdan revealed.
PACE THE RACE
The journey of completing an endurance race of 150k is an experience in itself and Hamdan delves into that experience with his thoughts.
“I have gained experience on how to pace the 150km race and that has been a big learning for me. Now, I don’t go too fast at the beginning and slow down towards the finish. I have maintained a balance between going at a fast pace and slowing down. It is a very big achievement for me to successfully cover the 150km distance in under 30 hours. We know the Jabal Akhdhar mountains are not easy and the temperature as you know is such that it gets under three degrees at some places,’’ he added.
With 2020 being the ‘Year of Covid’, Hamdan’s preparations were affected too but the thorough professional that he is, found a way around it.
“I had two events lined up this year in Croatia and France, both of which were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UTMB in Oman was also cancelled because of the pandemic. However, I continued to train alone. Some days there were some restrictions but I used to finish my training before the curfew. I was doing some training in Wadi Bani Kharous, Wadi Bani Auf and sometimes in Jabal Shams alone. I was trying to be on the safe side by not exposing myself to other people.”
Hamdan stated his goal was to make some significant improvements in his technique that will aid his running and that paid off.
“I did 170k in the last UTMB by Oman and I finished second in the race. I did it in 68 hours. But this year for the 150k race the route was different and more challenging. It is dangerous in some places. My big achievement in this race was my ability to control the race and my speed. I did not take a long time at the check point. I directly took my food and water and I kept going. Also, my legs were not getting tired and I felt a lot more stronger. Since I was cycling, I had more endurance strength,’’ he added.
As the torturous 2020 nears a finish, Hamdan as everyone else on the planet hoped that normalcy returns to professional sport.
“I hope everything gets back to normal. I will try to be in France for UTMB 170k in August 2021 and try to find a sponsor and do my best.’’ he signed off.