This past weekend was the first race that Team Sports UAE have put on. They had a 10km and a 3km race that you could participate in, and the races took place out at Meydan Golf Club.
Being the first race that they’d put on, you can understand that there were a few teething problems. Here’s how my day went:
Up at 5:30 to make my standard pre-race breakfast, egg mayonnaise on toast, and headed out the door at 6am. The race was starting at 7am, and although I live only 15 minutes away from the venue, I decided to get there a bit early because bib collection was done on arrival and I thought it best to give this a little bit of extra time (the extra few minutes warming up also never go to waste 🙂 )
Bib collection was super easy and organised, so once I’d picked it up I headed outside to start my warm up. I could not believe how many people were hanging about also doing warm ups… this looked like a popular race 🙂 Unfortunately things weren’t so perfect and easy from here on. There was no clear direction as to where the start line was (I kind of guessed where it would be based on other races that I’ve taken part in at the same place) and when they had a guy walking around with a megaphone, nobody could understand a word he was saying. People started heading towards the assumed starting point, and once again he started giving direction on what was to happen once the gun went off – and once again nobody could understand him. I found myself a little spot and got myself ready, just going with the flow. He then counted down from 3, a loud siren went off and we were all off.
It was very squashy getting across the start line and the congestion didn’t ease up until we were a few hundred meters out of the parking lot / start area and out onto the open road. I didn’t think much of it at the time until my little voice in my head announced my first kilometer – in 7 minutes! I was mortified. This was going to screw up my time completely. I had had no intentions of going for a PB in this race, but I was aiming for around 57 minutes… and a 7 minute start was not likely to give me that unless I put in a lot of extra effort that might then hurt me later on. So, I picked up the pace slightly, and did the next km in 5:30. A little too fast, but after that I settled into a nice pace of around 5:45 per km. Exactly what I was hoping for.
The course was very flat but quite enjoyable – I enjoy a race that’s not just a simple out and back. This one had a few turns that we had to take, and involved the tiniest amount of running on sand too. It was 2 loops of a 5 km track. There was a little confusion in the beginning because the 3 km mark was along the route of the 10 km race, and the 3 km runners had to turn off whereas we kept going straight… but it wasn’t very clearly marked, and there were a lot of 3 km and 10 km runners reaching the point at the same time. There was also no distinction between us by having different coloured bibs or anything, so it was confusing for the marshals too.
The water stations seemed to be working out well – I didn’t make use of any of them so I cannot officially comment on this – and the volunteers handing out the water did well getting water to the runners, and not getting in the way of runners not wanting.
Reaching 9 km’s I was reasonably satisfied with my time, all things considered, and now it was time to push a little bit, to try and cross that finish line in the best time that I could… so I pushed a little harder until I came around that corner, goosebumps all over me, and crossed the finish line in 58:20 (official time) 🙂 I placed 8th in my category (women, 21-34), 18th in my gender, and 125th (out of 245) overall. Now if only that first kilometer hadn’t been so slow!!!
I do think that the volunteers handing out the medals at the finish line need to stand a bit more out of the way next time – as you cross the finish line they’re right there, not allowing much room to move, and the spectators are all hanging about so you basically run straight into a wall of people at the end – not fun.
But, overall, this was a good race, an enjoyable morning, and if it hadn’t been for the disastrous first km, I would have done sooo much better!