Muscat: Oman is to be the location for one of the world’s most extreme sporting challenges when it hosts a premium long-distance trail running event in November this year. The inaugural OMAN by UTMB event will see an international field of 300 runners take on a non-stop rugged 137km – 85mile – course over the varied and mountainous terrain of Oman’s Jebel Akhdar. It will be hosted by Oman Sail, supported by Tanfeedh, the Ministry of Tourism, UTMB International and the organisers of UTMB Mont-Blanc.
UTMB Mont-Blanc was created in 2003 in Chamonix, France, and has quickly grown to become the “World’s Summit of Trail Running”. The event is based on a very simple concept: an official start line in the European hub of outdoor sports, a race around the Mont-Blanc Massif, crossing three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) and a finish in Chamonix after 170km and 10,000 metres of vertical gain. In the last few years, the organisers have created five other distances (40, 55, 100, 120 and 300km), with all races now being organised during the same week. The UTMB Mont-Blanc’s profile has become global, with 100 different nationalities amongst the 10,000 participants.
The inaugural OMAN by UTMB on 29 November 2018 will take 300 privileged competitors on a remote route that will include some of the most dramatic and varied scenery Arabia has to offer.
Through villages, palm plantations, deep wadis, narrow gorges and along mountain top ridges, the route travels through the heights of Jebel Akhdar, the Green Mountain, peaking at over 2,200m. With a length of 137km and a vertical gain of over 7,800m this is a course packed with variety and challenge. The climbs are long and at times very technical and temperatures will vary greatly from 25C during the day in the valleys to around 10C in the mountains, where most of the course is run. With the fastest competitors expected to finish in around 20 hours, OMAN by UTMB is designed as a unique journey for runners that highlights Oman’s natural beauty.
In addition to the adventure, running OMAN by UTMB carries a number of benefits for those wishing to enter the lottery to run UTMB Mont-Blanc: every finisher gains the maximum number of qualifying points (6) valid for 3 years (instead of the usual two) and every finisher saves one year in the UTMB Mont-Blanc registration process. So, for the 2019 edition, each OMAN by UTMB finisher doubles their chance in the entry lottery, if registering for the first time, or gains entry, if registering for the second time having been unsuccessful in 2018.
“We are delighted to be bringing such a prestigious and well-established event to the Sultanate of Oman and we are looking forward to welcoming a field of international runners to this beautiful country,” said Oman Sail CEO, David Graham.
“Oman has immense potential to be a leading trail running destination and we have been working closely with the UTMB team to establish the best way to showcase the country and provide participants with an experience where they will get a taste of authentic Arabia and take part in an incredible challenge,” he added.
Over the past 10 years Oman Sail has helped put the country on the global sporting map with a series of highly successful events including the rapidly growing Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, the Trans Hajar mountain bike race, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, and the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series, which recently held its opening event of the 2018 season in Muscat.
Oman’s varied landscapes, welcoming culture and ideal winter season temperatures make it an increasingly popular sports tourism destination with growing international appeal.
“The UTMB brand means much more than a simple race. All events supported by UTMB are organised with the highest quality standards, offering a challenging course in the mountains and an extraordinary adventure in an iconic destination,” said Catherine Poletti UTMB Mont-Blanc Director.
“OMAN by UTMB will be a discovery for runners in an entirely new environment, and I have no doubt that the journey will be enthusiastically grasped and appreciated by all who come to Oman to run or to support the runners.”