The Oman Desert Marathon is a six-day test of stamina and determination in an environment that is as remote and beautiful as it is challenging
Weighed down by backpacks containing all they need to sustain themselves in the desert — with only water provided at regular checkpoints along the route — more than 100 intrepid runners will experience a wide variety of conditions and landscapes including steep sand dunes, palm groves with welcoming shade and a long 42 km night stage under the desert stars.
Among those accepting this year’s 165 km Oman Desert Marathon challenge is the renowned Moroccan runner Rachid El Murabity, a four-time winner of his country’s famous Marathon Des Sables and ranked number one in the world.
Also likely to be a contender in the gruelling race is El Murabity’s younger brother Mohammed, a proven winner and in the world top-10.
Another member of a strong contingent from Morocco is Aziza Alraji, one of the top-10 female runners in the world and a member of the first ever international women’s team to take part in the Marathon Des Sables.
They will all face strong competition from the likes of Evgenii Galiva from Ukraine, a 200-km non-stop race champion, and Omani runners Sami al Saidi, who came second in the Oman Desert Marathon last year, and Moosa al Balushi, who placed fourth.
Overall, 107 runners from 23 countries will cover the 165-km distance covering 25 km, 20 km, 28 km, 27 km, 42 km and 23 km, respectively, over six stages. The longest fifth stage comprises a night marathon with ascents and descents of around 1,500m.
“Runners taking part in the previous five marathons have all had the chance to experience the authentic and unspoilt beauty of the Omani desert as well as the warmth of our legendary hospitality,” said race organiser Said al Hajri. “All are now in place to present the magic of the desert and its dunes to a new group of adventurous runners.”