MUSCAT: World record marathon champion Paula Radcliffe is to be the international figurehead for the eighth edition of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon in the Sultanate of Oman’s capital next January.
The multiple marathon winning British athlete has taken on the ambassadorial role to promote the increasingly popular event which has seen a record number of runners in each successive year since 2012, with more than 6,000 taking part earlier this year.
The iconic former marathon, half-marathon and cross-country world champion – whose Women’s World Record time of 2:15:25 set in 2003 remains unbroken – aims to encourage greater participation by runners from both Oman and the wider regional and worldwide athletic community in the now internationally recognised event.
“Throughout my career I have set myself goals and then tried to achieve them, and by becoming an ambassador for the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon I hope I can inspire others, particularly women, to take on the challenge,” said Radcliffe.
“My childhood running coach used to say ‘aim for the moon because if you miss you will land on the stars’, and that is a great philosophy for running and for life. The Al Mouj Muscat Marathon is a fantastic opportunity for people to train, get healthier and take part in an inspiring event.”
Radcliffe will introduce and flag-off the start of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon itself on Friday, January 18, and then take part in the 10k event.
Alongside the marathon and 10k races, the two-day festival of running will also feature half-marathon and marathon relay categories, a 5k charity fun run and a Kids’ Run.
“We are delighted that Paula has agreed to become our ambassador for the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer of event organiser, Oman Sail.
“Paula is a legendary figure in the marathon world and beyond and she will play a vital role in further highlighting what is now internationally recognised as a world-class celebration of health and fitness.”
The Al Mouj Muscat Marathon has seen record-breaking numbers in each successive year since it was first held in 2012. This year saw over 6,000 runners representing no fewer than 87 nationalities across all the categories – a 370 per cent increase on 2017 – and organisers Oman Sail are targeting a further step-change in 2019.
At the same time a long-term development plan has a target of 15,000 participants by 2022, with at least 20 per cent travelling from overseas as a result of Oman’s growing reputation as a premier sports tourism destination.
The 2018 edition was formally recognised by world running’s international governing body the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), and the Muscat coastal course was certified to International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) standards.
Before the 2019 marathon Radcliffe will come to the Sultanate for an ‘experience Oman’ visit which will take in Jebel Akhdar in the breathtaking Al Hajar mountain range, the popular turquoise pools of Wadi Shab, a diving trip to the internationally acclaimed Damaniyat Islands, and a tour of Muscat including the Royal Opera House, Grand Mosque and Muttrah Souq.
She will also meet schoolchildren and the public at special ‘Meet Paula’ sessions, provide training tips for the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, and get a sneak preview of sections of the course. Registered runners will have the opportunity to be photographed with her on Race Pack collection days before the marathon itself.
Radcliffe retired from competitive running in 2015. In her career she won both the London and New York marathons on three occasions, and has been European champion over 10,000m and in the cross-country. Her numerous accolades include IAAF World Athlete of the Year (2002), AIMS World Athlete of the Year (2002, 2003 and 2005) and BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She was awarded the MBE in 2002.