This past weekend was the 25th anniversary of the Wadi Bih race, which takes place out in the Hajar Mountains, on the Oman border.
There are various categories to this race – 30 / 50 / 72 km individual runs which take place on Friday, or the 72 km team run which takes place on Saturday. I ran in the Team 72. This is run in teams of 5 people, with each person running approximately 15 km’s over the course.
But, the weather gods were not on our side this year 😦
On Friday, huge blustery winds started blowing in across the mountains, causing the individual races to be extremely challenging (well, much more than normal), but luckily they all managed to complete their races. However, Saturday’s race – the Team 72 – was not so lucky.
Over the course of Friday night, the wind and rain caused flash flooding up in the mountains, which in turn caused a lot of the wadi’s to pool up with water, making them impassable… which meant that the teams would not be able to navigate their way through the wadi’s in order to run the race. This meant that the race needed to be shortened for everyone’s safety… and it was shortened to just 28 km’s, with 2 people running each leg, instead of 1 person running each leg. This way, although it was a much shorter race in distance, and duration, each person was still able to run approximately 15 km’s.
Waking up on Saturday morning brought final confirmation that the run would be shortened, so all teams had to quickly adjust their plans for the run, and we all set out in the freezing cold, but thankfully not windy conditions.
Personally I really struggled on my first leg – I had not warmed up at all because I was tired (we had been up since 3am!) and it was just too cold to be outside, and I had lost all motivation due to the long delays in the morning while we waited for confirmation that the run would even take place. But, I pushed through and eventually snapped out of my mood and was able to really enjoy the run for the most part, and really looked forward to some yummy food at the finish line 🙂
We had one very inexperienced runner on our team, but he was an absolute champion! He pushed himself really hard through the 15 (or so) km’s and finished with a huge smile on his face and affirmation that he’ll be continuing this running lifestyle that he’s now tapped into 🙂
After lunch (well, brunch, since it was 11am), we packed up and looked forward to being home earlier than planned… just a 2-hour drive ahead of us and then it was warm showers, change of clothes and nap time!
But once again, the gods were not with us 😡
We reached the border post about 10 minutes after leaving the race area and hit a queue of traffic. We were probably about 2 or 3 km’s from the actual border post. It took us THREE HOURS to cross!
It was not a great finish to an already long day and drive, but the drivers and passengers all took it in their stride and tried to make the most of an impossible situation where we literally had no control… some people played frisbee, some people had picnics, some people just simply went and dipped their toes in the sea. And eventually we made it to the front of the queue, handed our passports over, had our car checked from top to bottom, and started our 2 hour drive home.
Needless to say that I slept like a baby last night for a solid 10 hours – bliss ❤
Quick shout out to the organisers of the Wadi Bih race for taking our safety into their hands, and ensuring that we still had an enjoyable, challenging run, but not putting any of us at risk up in the mountains. You guys did a GREAT job!