Why are Races important to Runners?

Given the latest fracas raised as a result of an improperly planned and executed race, a lot of runners, seasoned and new comers, are questioning the willingness to partake in such events that prove to be nothing more than huge disappointments.

However, the feeling of dismay should pass and not tarnish the essence of competitive running.

First and foremost, by competitive I mean against yourself. Running Saturday’s 10K, despite its several setbacks, proved beneficial in a myriad of ways. Most importantly it showed that as a runner I have progressed from my pace 2 years ago, at the RunQ8 2012 edition, where my 10K timing was 48 minutes (and the odd few seconds). Fastforward to 2014, and I find myself finishing the 10K in 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Progress!

Do not get me wrong; I run on a weekly basis, with variable distances, the shortest being 10K; it is only in a race environment that you truly find the drive to push yourself to beyond what you thought capable. And that is why races should never be forgone, for it gives you the opportunity to really test yourself.

Not only that, but the presence of several other sports enthusiasts around you serves as more motivation. There is nothing quite as exquisite as a thumbs up/ high five from a stranger. I had one person yell out “Way to go Lightning McQueen!” to which I replied, “FLASH!”, and that served to propel me forward. Finding yourself surrounded by others that have made the mental decision to drag themselves out of bed and put themselves through the grueling action of placing one foot infront of the other for a distance of 10,000 meters makes one feel right at home. Appreciated and understood.

One of my favorite race day games is called peripheral perception, whereby one uses their peripheral vision (looking out of the corner of your eye without turning your head) to spot hopeful over-takers. Once you see them (or hear them, breathing or slapping the pavement), all you need to do is put a little effort to get ahead, and keep doing so until you drain them. In any setting other than a race, this proves difficult, and that is why it is imperative to go for races.

However, that being said, race organizers are responsible for the well being of the runners. And that means not only replenishing their hydration levels, but also their nutrients.

Running is different from one person to the next; some can run long distances without need of nourishment, others require it on a regular basis, and the lack thereof can be dangerous.

Make no mistake, there is a huge difference between every day running and race-day running. Your personal best will always be set when surrounded by a crowd. And the sense of achievement of crossing the finish line is beyond description, well worth the pain.

 

Top 10 Shortcomings of Today’s 10K #LetsGoForward

The community of Kuwait is no stranger to running events; we are all familiar with the two main organizers – RunQ8 & the Kuwait Charity Run. Today’s race was sponsored by neither, and as such here are the top 10 shortcomings of the race:

1) Did not start on time.

We live in a desert country, the longer you wait to start a race the hotter it becomes, and the more dangerous for runners who are already sweating buckets and dehydrating.

2) No timer at the Finish line.

One of the most exhilarating feelings is to be running towards a finish line where you are guaranteed that your picture would be accompanied by your finish time. For your own reference. A minor detail but still quite important.

3) Inadequate placement of distance markers.

Its quite simple – you have a race compromised of 10 kilometers, it does not take a genius to guess that you should have a marker for every KM that passes, giving people an idea where they are in the race. The only markers available were at 1.5KM (the turnaround for the 3K runners) and the turnaround at the 5K mark.

4) Few and far between water stations.

There were only 3 water stations along the race. Personally, I do not drink whilst running, I was however in need of water to vent off the heat.

5) Understaffed Volunteers.

Lets say a group of 10 people are running together, in the heat, and are in need of refreshment. The water stations had only 2 volunteers. with 2 arms each, that is 4 bottles they can carry and give to runners. Meaning 6 runners would have to either wait in line or stop and get water themselves.

6) The Finish Line was not padded.

A minor detail, but still important.

7) T-shirts. Medal.

The top take-aways from any race are the T-shirt and the Medal. This race however, several people were disappointed that the t-shirts provided were not actual running t-shirts. The medal itself also looked quite disappointing, as was the ribbon to which it was connected.

8) No refreshments for runners

This was NOT a free run. A fee was paid to take part. Yet the only refreshments offered to runners were bottles of water – nothing to help regulate the loss of minerals from the body – no energy drinks, no fruits (bananas for example). Not even juice (which was later found to have been distributed TO the water stations) which brings us to …

9) Juice at the water stations

Guava, Orange & Cocktail. In a box, requiring a straw, being given to runners during a run.

10) Pay for everything.

The aforementioned organizers (RunQ8 and KuwaitCharityRun) provided the best after run refreshments EVER. Everything was FREE; goody-bags were given to help regulate the runners lost minerals containing juice and cookies, the plethora of sponsors were giving away free samples for the runners. This however was not the case today. What made it even worse was the fact that there was nothing given to the runners post-race to aid in recovery except water. Not even banana quarters (as mentioned earlier). There was one stall that had banana’s hanging as a display (which were quite raw), and they started selling them for one KD.. EACH!

It is a well understood fact that if you are organizing a run, you should go all the way and cater to the runners needs. It is not an event you use to draw cash from the runners who paid to participate as well as the sponsors who paid to have their stalls put up. The later were covering their costs by demanding payment from the former. (FYI The Kuwait Charity Run in 2012 had free pizza being made).

As far as races in Kuwait go, this was extremely disappointing as it seemed like nothing more than a reason to raise money for all sides and literally stick it to the participants.

Here is hoping that which ever race takes place next in Kuwait, the aforementioned points will be given proper consideration.

That being said, the volunteers were extremely helpful, and the overall ambiance created by runners was astounding. Kuwait needs more organized races, however the key word is ORGANIZED.

 

Running into Kuwait’s Fashion Police

The National & Liberation day celebrations have come and gone, and as we all dry ourselves off it is pertinent to recall where and how we celebrated these pivotal days in the history of Kuwait. Most will say they spent it gallivanting up and down the Gulf Road spraying water on anything or anyone that moved.

This however is how me and 2 friends celebrated the day of the 25th, by running 25KM on the Gulf Road, at risk of bewetting:

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Running 25KM on February 25th

Every special day deserves a special outfit, and I saw it fit to break out the running costume I’d planned to debut at RunQ8;

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The fully functional 'Flash' costume!

Yes ladies and gentlemen; a fully functioning flash costume that serves a proper aid to running – being compression wear.

Now, we were not spared the water fray. On the contrary,  we represented moving targets. However even the police took their turn poking fun at us; it all happened at the intersection of 3rd Ring Road with the Gulf Road, my friend and I were waiting for our other friend to catch up when suddenly we were approached by cops (me specifically) who asked a) what are we doing & b) what was I wearing.

At this point I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I was not the most ridiculously dressed person on the Gulf Road at that time.

The officer paraded me before his friends where I had to try to explain the concept of compression running gear. In the end I understood the cop mistook me for impersonating this character made popular on Melody Hits TV:

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I can see the striking resemblance …. it is uncanny. He then asked about the lightning bolt on my chest, and I tried explaining the concept of the Flash, only to end up saying:

I’m Harry Potter.

 

A Sporty celebration on Feb 25?

25KM run/cycle on the Gulf Road this Tuesday? Join us!

The holidays are approaching; and for all those “left behind” (due to a multitude of reasons such as delayed booking and lack of proper funding); why miss out on the fun?

We (so far mostly just me) are planning a 25Km run/cycle from Marina Mall to souq sharq and back.

The roads will be packed; there will be danger lurking in every corner with water guns everywhere.

There will be no medals or tshirts, just a guarantee of a good time (albeit wet!)

So if you’re interested, do let us know via here.

 

Kuwait’s Rat Infested Beach Front!

Kuwait is slowly facing a rising endemic that is poised to threaten all fun activities on the beach front from Salmiya to Sharq; and that is the presence of street rats on the beach front.

not this type of street rat!

not this type of street rat!

Vermin.

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Disease carrying rodents.

As a runner/cyclist in Kuwait, I enjoy spending most of my sports time on the Gulf Road. Last month, whilst running the stretch from Marina Mall to the 3rd Ring Road on the island in the middle of the Gulf Road (the one being decorated with white stones), I was shocked to find a tiny mouse running alongside me! At first I wrote it off as a single occurrence, crossing the street to the other side only to be greeted by its larger, greyer cousin – the rat, amongst the rocks near the beach.

Rat infested beach

Yesterday night however, whilst cycling the route above, on a busy Friday night with people picknicking (and some illegally BBQing) along the beach, I came to know of the rising problem that is the rats. I am not sure whether people were just oblivious, or chose to ignore them, but in the garden area near Fridays, a rat ran by my bike, attempting to climb over it! Which lead me to yell out obscenities in astonishment amidst the family friendly area.

What really was bewildering was how everyone went about their activities without a care in the world! Families dined, children played, lovers frolicked in a disgusting display of public affection in the shadier areas, and all the while, the rats ran amok.

In the end, we have no one to blame but ourselves for this; for it is the people’s inability to clean up after themselves that sprung these disease ridden rodents out. It is through our refuse that they find their sustenance, and multiply at exponential rates.

Litterers should be heavily fined, and the area should be under more constant supervision in order to enforce such laws. The only police car in the area was parked near Green Island, where people had proceeded to park on the sidewalk despite sufficient parking spots being available.

It is time to act before it is too late.

 

Gulf Samsung users beware – your phone could be French @SamsungFrance @SamsungMobileME

The saga continues…

After having contacted Samsung ME regarding the issue with my phone being upgraded to ver. 4.3 despite the software not being released yet for the regional market,  I am left baffled with the response as follows:

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I purchased my phone directly from Al-Babtains showroom located behind the Police Station in Kuwait City (close to Dar Al Awadi), when I initially contacted Samsung USA via their live support function, I was told that my phone model was specific to the Gulf Region.

Therefore, Gulf users who do not wish to endure the same ordeal I am currently going through; do not update your firmware when requested by Samsung! There is no update for the Gulf region yet!

 

@SamsungMobileME amazing customer service

What was initially geared to be a post of shame and embarrassment upon Samsung has instead turned into praise (albeit initial).

It all started when my device (S3) asked to update the firmware. Not being a stranger to update, and thinking it would be a mild tweak,  I conceded. Little did I realise there was nothing small about it it.

As soon as my phone reset upon installation of the update, I realised something was amiss.

Firstly,  the following error kept popping up consistently every few seconds, “unfortunately, clock has stopped working”. Which made no sense as I can see it is working properly and telling time, however my alarms were completely inaccessible.

Next, all my unsynchronized runs from Nike+Running had vanished!

On top of that, all of my personalised contact ring tones were reset to default.
At first I thought the Samsung stock apps (I.e. clock) might need updating too, however the Samsung account had disappeared too.

The Internet was my last resort and sure enough,  the bugs I encountered had been wreaking havoc upon many Samsung-ites world wide – with no solution at hand.

The Samsung website proved to be my salvation as evident by the response received:

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So apparently what really happened was that by some freak accident my phone was updated to Android JellyBean 4.3, whilst the region is still on 4.1.2!

We will have more for you as the story unfolds, however if you to have fallen to this, stop using the clock! Go to applications manager and disable any form of clock and nothing else. There is a thread on a forum that asks you to disable storage apps. DO NOT DO THIS!  It will negatively affect the display in the gallery.

 

The travel curse

For some 2014 spells a new year for new experiences, great experiences, exciting experiences. For me, it has already started off on the worst foot possible – a cursed foot.

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For the first time ever in over 27 years of travel, I have been struck by the trifecta of travel related calamities.

It started out innocently enough with a trip back home where my luggage appears on the carousel at arrival with a huge piece of metal sticking out of its frame. I remember it vividly as at first I wanted to deny it was my luggage, even going as far as opening it to check inside (despite my name being written on the tag on the handle), a lady walked up to me and said I think you have my bag, how I wished she was correct. In a foul mood I snapped at her, pointing at the tags and saying is your name Ayman Nassar?!

The second calamity happened shortly after the first, where, again, for the first time ever, I missed my flight and had to shelf out an amount greater than what I paid for a return ticket for a one way.

And the travel gods are not done with me yet! This past weekend I was denied boarding on a flight to Qatar as my new designation apparently is not privy to visa-on-arrival. And worse, no refund!

Is this a sign? Should I cancel the honeymoon plans (tickets already booked) in light of these ominous signs from the nether?

What do you think?

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Flight curse

 

@QatarAirways: how I despise you @QatarAirNews @BoycottQatAir

There is no worse feeling in the world than packing your bags, imaging a vacation with loved ones, only to be unceremoniously refused boarding.

Now, the problem is Qatar Airways alone are not to blame, however, their employees thickheadedness, coupled with several other factors, led to this catastrophe.

It all happened when Qatar (the state) released a list of 201 or so designations for GCC residents that would be given visa on arrival. This list includes Sales Manager Sales Representative.

Unfortunately, my title of Sales Supervisor falls in between both. One would think that would be easily understandable. However, no.

So now I miss out on the chance to visit family, lose out on the price of a ticket, and find myself extremely irritated at both Qatar’s Government as well as Qatar Airways.

The designation on your work permit has NOTHING to do with what you actually do; because most times some companies have issues with the sho’oun and use different titles for employees. For example, despite my residency saying Sales Supervisor, I am the farthest from sales that you can imagine – I work as an Internal Auditor (which coincidentally happens to be one of the designations given visa on arrival).

Rest assured, The embassy of Qatar, upon receiving my call, assured me I would be given visa on arrival.

So now we wait, and see, what transpires in terms of refunds and whatnots.

 

Kuwaits Friday morning runs

Tomorrow is Friday, and as my travel plans were abruptly altered thanks to Qatar airways and their government,  the best thing to do is release all pent up frustration via running.

So join us tomorrow morning at 8AM by the fountain near pizza express at Marina crescent for Kuwait’s impromptu, incredible, intellectual and uber fun gathering of fitness friends.

Whether you are an experienced runner, a walker, a waddler, a jogger or someone who just wants to dip their toes in the running pool, this group is for you!

Work on your summer body today!

 

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