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International runners laud Oman’s beauty and nature
December 1, 2019 | 9:21 PM
by Times News Service
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Under its tourism strategy and global and regional promotional plan, the Ministry of Tourism organised the second edition of the International Mountain Running Challenge. This global event was organised in cooperation with Oman Sail and Tanfeedh initiative. Many government organisations and establishments participated in the event including Oman Air.

HE Mohammad bin Salim Al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs, said that this race was a wonderful addition to the international tourism and sporting events of the Sultanate of Oman. It will help in promotion of tourism of the country and highlight its potential such as its amazing landscapes and mountainous terrains through which the race track passes.

“We are confident that this would help further rejuvenate tourism of the Sultanate of Oman,” Al Toobi said.

“Proper organisation of this event and active participation of the society and the government organisations made me feel pleased and proud. There is no doubt that this also encourages tourism in the Sultanate. The participation of many nationalities of the world in this race was encouraging. It has also brought the efforts being made to increase awareness on tourism of the Sultanate into light.”



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Global mountain running challenge



The second edition of the Ultra Trail Montblanc Challenge, Oman 2019, kicked off on November 28, for a distance of 170 kilometres and 130 kilometres in front of Fort Bait Al Rudaydah in Birkat Al Mawz of Nizwa, where runners raced for three consecutive days till November 30, non-stop to the end of the race in the wilayat Hamra. This is passing through several mountain slopes and narrow corridors in both Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Shams.

About 1800 runners from 68 countries of the world participated in the global challenge. They were from age groups of six years to 87 years to compete in different categories. They attracted a number of professional runners and passionate adventurers from the Sultanate and abroad. This provided them exceptional adventure and a wonderful opportunity to explore the summits of the mountains, beauty of topographic terrain, tracks passing through a number of villages, deep wadis and palm farms.

The race village, which was in the Bait Al Rudaydah Fort, also had many activities and entertainment events for the entire family and the people of the region. In addition to this, tourists have also come here to see the start of the races, enjoy the generosity of the Omani hospitality and learn about the Sultanate’s unique attractions and diverse customs and traditions.

National strategy

Maitha bint Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said: “The Ministry of Tourism is implementing the national strategy. This race which is part of this strategy will introduce the Sultanate in the market as it would be among the countries which organise such sports related event. This will help in the promotion of the Sultanate of Oman as a major sports tourism destination.

Maitha Al Mahrouqi said: “This huge local and international media presence in the event is in itself a promotion of this type of tourism and sports. Such events and challenges require terrains and mountains like Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Shams. There is also a huge public presence from among the contestants from around the world who have come there with their families and friends.”

Active tourist movement

Khalil bin Saif Al Toobi, Director of Tourism in Al Dakhiliyah governorate, emphasised on the importance of promoting and introducing the tourism potential which the Sultanate has in general and Al Dakhiliyah governorate in particular. He said that these elements make the Sultanate of Oman one of the countries which is always ready to organise such international races and challenges. This is because its topography is suitable for this type of sports. These types of sports tourism activities attract huge number of people from all over the world.

He said: “Al Dakhiliyah governorate has a huge spurt in tourism activity. This will prove beneficial for both private and public sector tourism organisations.”

National initiative

Asim Al Saqri, incharge of communications in Oman Sail, said: “This event is part of the Ministry of Tourism’s strategy to promote sports tourism. It is a national initiative that was started almost four years ago. It is aimed at enhancing economic diversification of the Sultanate of Oman.

A number of games were selected for the event which are compatible with the Omani environment and encourage healthy sporting practices.

Al Saqri added: “‘UMTB’ is an event which attracts more than 10,000 people to run in the Alps in France. The Omani edition of the event is called ‘Oman by UTM’ meant for mountain challenge.

He said: “A delegation of them visited the Sultanate of Oman and was impressed by Al Hajar mountains, specifically Jabal Shams and Jabal Akhdar.

They found diversity of the terrains. They also saw palm farms and ancient Omani villages, as well as the summit of Jabal Shams. Then they made up their minds for this initiative and agreed to organise a mountain running rally here last year, more precisely at the end of November. This was first experience which has proved successful.

On the significance of this event, he said: “The return is very large and the benefit is huge, as is evident by the occupancy rates of hotels and flight bookings. All suppliers for the event are from the region, even the food points along the race track are of Omanis.” He added that this rally would be held annually for several years. “We will also prepare for the third edition from the beginning of December. “For this, we are open for registration of participants. This is because the Europeans plan their complete annual tourism programe,” he said.

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Impressive Omani participation

There was a wide range of Omani participation in the second edition of the Global Mountain Running Challenge. This includes a host of Omani runners such as Hamdan Al Khatiri, Khaseef Al Zakwani, Nazeerah Al Harthi and Sami Al Saidi.

Nazeera Al Harthi said: “I think the race is very good and it is different because it brings many things together. It helps us to know the beauty of Oman. Even we the Omanis get to explore many places which we haven’t seen yet. We also learn about how Omanis lived in the ancient times.”

She said that this rally has brought tourism, sports and adventure together. It is also an opportunity to know the people from other countries.

Adventure and enjoyment Khaseef Al Zakwani said: “I have been preparing for the race for almost a year. This year, I participated in a marathon in Thailand. I completed the race in an excellent time and was ranked 20th out of 700 runners from around the world. My participation in this marathon is an adventure and enjoyment both at the same time.”

He said that the organisation of this rally was wonderful. It would bring excellent results and would provide an opportunity to see the beauty of Oman and its strength. Participation in this rally was in itself a challenge.

Praise from global runners

Participants of the Global Mountain Running Challenge were from various countries of the world. All of them have been attracted by the beauty of Oman and impressed by its hospitality and skills of event organisation.

Runner David O›Hara from the United States had said: “I am 56 years old. This is my second participation in this challenge organized at the world standard. I am proud to participate in it as this really would be a significant addition for me.

Alexander Wassler said: “I am a German and I am 45 years old. This is my first participation in this event.

“I was very impressed with the weather in the Sultanate and the landscapes which I saw. It is different from what we have seen in Europe.”

He added: “The name of the event is known globally. I will participate in the third edition.”

Thomas Land Green of Sweden says: “The love of the desert and the mountains attracted me to this race. It was important for me to participate in it. I wish to win points in the race. I think seriously about participation in the coming rally.”

Geoffer Cheng from Hong Kong said: “It is good to find such a race in the Middle East. That’s why I am excited. My biggest ambition is to get to the finishing line.”



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