Muscat: With just a week remaining until the start of the 2018 Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, excitement is growing as final preparations are made for the event of the year, which has attracted record participation of more than 6,000 athletes.
“Our initial plan was to accommodate 5,000 athletes this year, but with the overwhelming response from participants, we decided to stretch it and make everyone happy,” said Salma Al Hasmi, Oman Sail CMO.
A total of 6,051 runners, a dramatic increase from the participation of 1,290 runners in the 2017 event, are set to take part in the full-marathon, half-marathon, 10km race, and three other new race categories that have been introduced this year, the Charity Fun Run (5km), Kid’s Run (1km), and Marathon Relay (42km).
The Charity Fun Run offers a chance to support the Oman Diabetes Association’s national campaign to fight diabetes and has attracted 1,097 entries.
“We wouldn’t have been able to organise this event on such a large scale without the tremendous support provided by the Oman Athletic Association and other sponsors in terms of logistics and technical groundwork throughout the journey,” noted the organisers.
The growing international flavour of the event was evident last year when the men’s race was won by Belgian athlete Pierre Breuer and the women’s by Icelandic runner Asta Parker.
This year spectators will witness the participation of the British couple Martin and Sarah Steer, who are running to reclaim their title in the Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon while pushing a double pram.
Local Omani runners have been joined by athletes from no fewer than 86 countries around the world.
The entry list shows substantial numbers hailing from India, Britain, the Philippines and France, closely followed by significant groupings from South Africa, the United States, Pakistan and Ireland, along with hundreds more from countries ranging from Australia, Brazil and China to Venezuela, Wales and Yemen.
“All of them can look forward to perfect running conditions and a beautiful coastal course along the Muscat shoreline,” said Al Hasmi. “It has always been part of our pioneering mission to contribute to the social and economic development of the Sultanate, and the Al Mouj Muscat marathon works on all counts.”
While acknowledging the efforts of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races has formally recognised the event for the first time.
In addition, the course has been precisely measured to meet global International Association of Athletics Federations standards, making the course eligible for recognised record-breaking performances.
It is a celebration of health and fitness, and it is the perfect opportunity to showcase Oman’s particular blend of beauty and culture to international visitors.