Living in the desert doesn’t give one much opportunity to do trail runs unless you’re one of those people who make an effort to head out to the wadi’s (Arabic for valley or dry riverbed) to explore more of the off-the-beaten-track side of the UAE.
I, however, am not one of them.
Until I recently discovered a race taking place in a secluded area called Wadi Showka. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what emirate it’s in 😳
Anyway, I signed up for the 5km race even though I’ve always sworn that I will not pay to run a 5km race – minimum is 8km’s. But, since they had advised that it was a tough race, and the 5km route would be good for beginners and / or first-timers, I listened to them.
I had planned on heading out the night before the race and setting up a little camp area but changed my mind at the last minute for various reasons. Instead I headed to bed really early the night before (while my house mates were out partying!) and I was up at 5am to drive the 1 hour to the start line.
Sunrise over the mountains
The start line
Just like any other race, the runners were all warming up with gentle jogs around the area, some stretching going on here and there, getting bibs in place, hydrating and just generally having chit chats with each other.
Runners hanging about
I was nervous! Yes it was only 5km’s lying between me and the finish line, but they were 5km’s of rocks, gravel, loose sand, etc. Although I was known as a ‘rock rabbit’ as a kid (thanks mom), this was totally different to mucking about on rocks in streams – this was a race and I was going to push myself!
The horn went off. The 15 km runners were out in front and they quickly separated themselves from the group. I found a nice little gap between people and settled into a good stride, considering the terrain I was on. It was tough! In the rocky bits you literally had to walk through otherwise you’d land on your face, but I then used the flatter areas to gain some speed and kept at a strong pace during these parts.
The scenery was absolutely stunning! I had wanted to take a bunch of photos but my phone was safely packed away in my backpack, which was on my back, and it would have been impossible to get it out safely while negotiating the rocks. At the halfway / turn-around point I decided to take a quick stop for some water (also stowed away in the backpack) and snap a few quick photos. This took about 1.5 minutes and I was then off again.
Water station at the turn-around point
Runners carrying on for the 10 km route
There was a girl ahead of me and I was determined to catch her. Again I used the flat areas to gain speed and at one point I was right behind her – I’m sure she would have heard me breathing down her neck, literally! But the point that I caught up to her was a very narrow area which did not allow overtaking so I stuck it out behind her, and once it cleared, she made a dash for it. And the gap between us once again started growing 😦 I tried really hard to keep up with her but it wasn’t happening so I just pushed as hard as I could, knowing that I was giving it my all.
Not far ahead I could see the final hill (which didn’t seem so inclined on the way out?!) and I knew that the finish line was just around the corner… I pumped my little legs up that hill and was determined to not let it get me down!
But it was a nasty hill and a few meters from the top I had to stop and walk the rest of it. Stoopid hill!
But it was then the finishing straight – unfortunately it was very loose pebbles for most of the way home so I couldn’t gun it, but I kept going, hearing the cow bells getting louder as I got closer to the finish line… what an awesome feeling that was! I think every race should have cow bells at the finish line!
Looking back at other runners crossing the finish line
I checked my time on my phone and was happy with the result, but once the official times came out I was stoked! I came third out of 8 females, finishing in a time of 37:11 – which included the 1.5 minutes or so that I stopped to muck about with photos and water!
I loved every second of this race and I will definitely be back for more – but the 10 km route next time… bah humbug to the 5 km’s! I chatted to the race organiser after I’d finished and she said that the 5 km’s at the start is the most technical part of the race, and it only gets more beautiful as you get further into the course. I cannot wait 🙂
Huge thanks to Urban Ultra for a great race, fabulous goodie bag, good looking medal and on overall excellent morning out!