The post office 174 elite runners take on the ultimate challenge amid high temperatures in inaugural AlUla Desert Blaze appeared first on TD (Travel Daily Media) Travel daily.
The first sold-out edition of AlUla Desert Blaze, which took place on Saturday 26th August 2023 was considered a resounding success with an impressive participation of 174 runners. Hailing from all over the world, runners from 39 nations took on the ultimate running challenge during the hottest month of the year, amid the ancient monuments and breathtaking desert landscape of AlUla. The first edition of AlUla Desert Blaze showcased the spirit of endurance and sporting camaraderie to make the Saudi city a booming destination for premier sporting events.
Elite runners and runners from as far away as Ethiopia, Morocco, Spain, Germany and Oman embarked on a one-of-a-kind experience as temperatures soared to 43 degrees Celsius , making AlUla Desert Blaze one of the most demanding endurance races in the GCC. , and on par with similar extreme global challenges.
Rami Almoallim, Vice President of Destination Management and Marketing at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “As with any ambitious first project, we spent a lot of time before the race thinking about how AlUla Desert Blaze would take place, especially considering that the riders would be challenged by some of the harshest conditions in the region. I am very proud to say that the event exceeded all expectations, a testament to our belief in AlUla as an exceptional sports destination and a tribute to the remarkable athletes who have come here to be part of it.
“It was awe-inspiring to see the spirit of AlUla Desert Blaze shine among athletes around the world who took on this challenge with unwavering determination to demonstrate their passion for pushing themselves to the absolute limit. The success of this sporting event adds a new chapter to AlUla’s legacy, inviting adventurers, sports enthusiasts and enthusiasts to be part of AlUla’s extraordinary journey of achievement, discovery and exploration.
Over distances of 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km, athletes of varying fitness levels pushed their physical and mental limits to emerge victorious. Among the winners in all categories were Hana Zemedkun of Ethiopia, who took her triumph in the women’s 42km category with a time of 3:00:29, and Chakib Lachgar, who took victory in the men’s race of the 42 km in 2:23:39. Algerian Malika Benderbal triumphed in 1:21:42 in the women’s 21 km category, while Kenyan Robert Kimutai Ngeno stood out in the men’s 21 km category with his time of 1:05:09. Ruth Danies Albert Jbet of Bahrain and Yousef Al Asiri of Saudi Arabia took the wins in the adult women’s and men’s 10km races respectively. Canada’s Carla Korpijaakko and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al Ghamdi took top honors in the adult women’s and men’s 5k categories.
Tia Watson from the UK and Amin Noor from Afghanistan won the junior women’s and men’s 10km races respectively, while Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al Mutairi took first prize in the junior men’s 5km category.
Young Tia Watson raced with Team Angel Wolf, the famous racing team made up of her parents Nick and Delphine Watson, and her brother Rio, who has a rare chromosomal disease. As a family, they championed inclusivity by competing with Rio in competitions around the world.
They said: “When you have an adult child with a disability and you travel, especially to a new place, it is always filled with natural worry, worry and apprehension about logistics. But we have to say that our visit to AlUla blew our minds and proved that our concerns were totally unnecessary. From the moment we landed in AlUla, we could see and feel how our son Rio was welcomed, accepted and embraced by the people of AlUla.
“We made our participation in AlUla Desert Blaze a truly inclusive team effort. Nick, Delphine and Tia pushed Rio in his racing chair for people with disabilities on the 10 km course. Rio absolutely loved this race, he was so happy to be among all the other participants and treated as an equal athlete, to find himself in such a beautiful natural environment and to practice his passion in life: inclusive running. The race was very well organised, with a playful sportsmanship. We loved this race and would definitely love to return to compete again…it should be on every athlete’s ‘must do race wish list’!
Veteran runner Loui Blake, who has already run four ultra-marathons and two marathons, was thrilled to complete the 42km AlUla Desert Blaze race. He said: “The AlUla Desert Blaze experience was truly unique. The scenery is unlike any I have ever seen which made the run itself even more enjoyable despite the harsh temperatures. It was incredibly well organized and accompanied, and I loved that there were ice baths available at the end! I will definitely be back next year.
Avid marathon runner Mohammed Dakhil, who has a half marathon, a full marathon and an ultra 50km trail under his belt, was happy to add AlUla Desert Blaze to his list of accomplishments. He said: “For me it was so much more than a 42km run, it was a chance for me to push my physical and mental abilities and truly explore the uncharted territory of running for a prolonged period of extremely hot weather under the August sun. .
“Not to mention a perfectly designed route, which presented us with various challenging hills, picturesque scenery, breathtaking scenery and an inexplicable energy that I sincerely believe exists nowhere but in the rock formations of ‘Al Ula. This event was exceptional and a true testament to what it means to far exceed expectations. Thanks to the Royal Commission for AlUla, organizers, doctors and ushers for organizing this unprecedented experience and I can’t wait to be back for the next one.
Set amidst the visually stunning landscape of the historic AlUla region, the route saw athletes traverse in front of the ancient monuments of Hegra, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia.
As temperatures soared, participant safety remained paramount, with comprehensive medical services and facilities widely available to runners; security measures included paramedics, nurses, physiotherapists and water stations every 2.5 km, as well as resupply stations stationed every 5 km with ice buckets, hydrating drinks, gels, fruits and snacks.
AlUla Desert Blaze is the latest in an exciting lineup of sporting events that take advantage of the city’s unique landscape, which includes sandstone cliffs, lush oases and fertile farmland. From hosting the AlUla Camel Cup and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup to the prestigious Saudi Tour, AlUla has championed sustainability through its sports and adventure offerings, paving the way for a future filled with exceptional experiences.
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