Dubai Week

World’s longest desert marathon is happening in Dubai

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Already home to the world’s tallest tower and biggest mall, Dubai once again makes history by announcing it will hold the world’s longest desert ultramarathon later this year.

Words by Aroma Kumar

The breathtaking desert terrain of the Al Marmoom Desert Reserve is to host the ultra-run across the 11th-15thDecember.

Organised by Dubai Sports Council, this ultramarathon will be the true test of human endurance, with a choice of three strenuous distances – 50 kilometres, 100km and 270km. If the bragging rights aren’t enough of an incentive, prizes of $80,000 are up for grabs (nearly AED 294,000).

Only for élite runners, an ultra marathon is any distance over 50km. Dubai’s offering to the ultramarathon calendar says it’s going to be the world’s longest desert race of its kind.

The 270km race would certainly be a lengthier stretch than, say, the notorious Marathon des Sables, a 247km trek across the Sahara in southern Morocco. The Al Marmoom races will take place over five day-long stages and include overnight camping, while the 100 km distance and the 50km are continuous races. As you’d hope all three distances will include check points along the routes where there will be water, time keeping, medical assistance and race crews.

Entrants must be over 18, very physically fit and ready to be “self-sufficient and carry all your own food and equipment on your back.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, opened Al Marmoom Desert Reserve in January 2018, as the first unfenced desert conservation reserve in the country. Powered by a megawatt solar power complex, it’s home to more than 300 species of native and migratory birds and covers 10km of lakes, so environmental protection will be an important part of the event. Organisers say: “It is…vital that we leave no trace, and our footprints fade with the sands.”

Think you’ve got what it takes? Early bird entry is $1,580 (AED 5,800). That includes bus transport to the race site, accommodation for six nights and evacuation insurance, which you hopefully won’t need. Sign up at ultramarathon.ae

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