Category Archives: Running

The Greatest Race I ever Ran @TMFoundation

It seems fitting to get back into the habit with a regular post I would create, albeit this one is almost a year late.

Lots has happened over the past year, it took the rejection of an article by a magazine to send me in a downward spiral of self-doubt, however, the rut is finally over!

So, allow me to take you back a year, September 2016.

The location: New York City!

I had just recently taken part in my first ever ROC race (Ridiculous Obstacle Course). And on my first voyage across the Atlantic, what better way to mark arriving on a continent for the first time than by adding to my (growing) gaggle of Medals? I sealed the deal with two back-to-back races, the ROC race, and a 5K race called The Heroes Run.

Now, this post is about the latter, not the former, but the full story cannot be understood without a small visit to the first race.

Obviously, it wasn’t a “race” per se, it A LOT OF WATER, and sightings of Power Rangers, superheroes and team participants from the Legends of the Hidden Temple gameshow way-back-when.

Moral of the story, I got really wet, including my ONLY PAIR of running sneakers, but it was super fun!

Fortunately, our hotel stocked ad rags at the front desk, being the well read runner I am, I quickly placed rolled up papers inside the shoes, to aid the drying process.

Race day was quite eventful, it was the day before Eid-Al-Adha, where Abraham envisioned slaughtering his son, so I was fasting. I had checked out how to get to the race location via subway, however damn the New York transit system, I found myself lost. And with no internet whatsoever. Fortunately, I found myself on a road that showed promise of an open wifi connection, I quickly used it to call an Uber (which worked with my current cashless status).

I’d selected this race after countless emails back and forth, the first race I had booked turned out to not give “finisher medals” which was a huge no-no for me, as everyone knows, runners are bling whores, we need our metal baby. So I googled “heroes run medals” and saw a few, so I assumed they were finisher medals.

Boy was I wrong.

I’d also been trying in vain to pay online for the race, using every means at my disposal, 3 different mastercards including a US issued one, all to no avail.

I made it to the race, on an empty stomach, and much to my chagrin, was informed that the run would not have finisher medals, rather placement medals, for 1, 2 and 3, in each category (runners in Kuwait know that the categories are male and female only).

I kept praying to God to be in the top 3…

At the sound of the whistle (or gun, I honestly can’t remember from the adrenaline), I was off, for 1/5KM I was in the lead, I thought YAY! my prayers were answered. Little did I realize I celebrated too soon. No sooner had I thought (this is in the bag) was I disturbed by a surpassing runner. I agreed to secede for second place. No sooner had I thought that, runner #2 took over, all in all, 4 men passed me, and 2 women.

On the run back to the finish line, I was almost caught by two others, at this point I decided to throw down the gauntlet and run like I never ran before. So I did.

The finishers were being congratulated with water and refreshments, I was further downtrodden as I couldn’t even enjoy those (because of the fasting). Atleast the t-shirt looked amazing I thought.

The race distance and timing system were measured and timed by a true pro, who had Olympic events under his belt. Runners walked up to his tent and got a printed receipt with their exact time. I figured, why not. Might as well. No sooner had I received my paper did my eyes bulge out in excitement, for right there next to my name was the number 2!

I was Second in my age category!

Which resulted in this awesome piece of bling-age:

It also helped a lot that the medal had a Super Cool Design!

Review of the @Bahrainrunners Cross Island Run December 2016

On paper, the race sounds extremely appealing – a chance to run an entire country from East to West.

The reality however, pales in comparison to the expectation.

unnamedLet’s start with the Cons:

Time not honored. I was sent an email confirmation that the race was due to begin at 9AM, gathering to be at 8AM to take the buses to the starting location. If not for my friend who valiantly offered to transport me, I would not have realized that the race time was made one hour earlier.

capture

Rules not comprehensive. The race boasted a few disclaimers I had not seen in all the races I have run previously, such as:

capture

Firstly; Music not being allowed was an overkill. I was under the impression the race would be run primarily on pavement due to this fact, little did I realize it only constituted almost 10% of the entire race. If I did not have my music to keep me centered whilst running across the sandy, arid plains, I would have gone mad!

Secondly, you would think if they’re asking us to treat everyone with respect, that we should also respect the country we are in and not aim to destroy the beauty of the desert, by discarding the spray paint cans alongside the running “path”.

No timing. This is not my first race, as you can probably surmise. It is also not the first race I take part in without a chip of some sort. Now most races provide you with chipped bibs, the good folks at BRR choose to sell you a tracker, valid for all races. What if I only want to run this race? Here is what your results will show if you do not have their tracker:capture

This seriously took away from the overall race enjoyment. Absence of a tracker should not excuse the organizers from manually recording my position and time, as per the bib placed on my front, as requested by their rules.

Few and far aid stations. In the desert, hydration is key.

Anticlimactic start. There was no designated start line, everyone just sort of converged into one location and kept edging forward till someone yelled “get set go!”

Short distance. The race fell short of the 16KM by 400Meters.

Disappointing GPS tracking. Despite claiming that the race is from one end of Bahrain to the other, the starting point was a fair distance inside as in not on the coast, making the map disappointing.

Long queue at the finish line for food. Despite a fair number of runners showing up, only one food cart was available at the finish line, making the waiting quite long.

capture

Pro’s:

Very friendly volunteers. truly a joy in any race.

Well chosen course. tough terrain but very enjoyable.

Massage at the end. A nice way to calm the muscles.

Bathroom facilities. Anyone in Kuwait knows, we don’t do very well with porta-potties for some reason, but Bahrain has it down!

@gulf_bank #642marathon review 2016 @extremesportskw @q8sportsevents @gulfbank642

Better late than never!

I was honestly very happy with the run this year, I kept formulating in my mind how I’d say it is good to be heard and that a lot of the pitfalls of the last run were dealt with this time.

However, it seems that there will always be a new pitfall to be highlighted every year, and the organizers could not have selected a worse pitfall than this, for which I and many other participants will certainly take offence.

I am talking specifically about how the race pictures were subcontracted to an external company that hopes to charge runners for their finish line/ race photographs. In all my years in Kuwait, and all the running events I have participated in, never have I seen someone try to monetize the most important aspect of the run for participants. One might argue “well they do it in XYZ country”, I would counter by saying “not everyone” and that “XYZ country probably has a lot more races than Kuwait does during their calendar year”.

Read on:

Starting with the Con’s:

Inflated participation. Organizers claimed that 4,000 people ran that day. According to the results, the following numbers participated in the distances mentioned:

42KM (Marathon) – 147

21KM (Half Marathon) – 429

10KM – 1,060

5KM – 1,532

Grand total: 3,168

Money hungry. if one were to check the 642 Marathon website, one would be confused to find the results of this year with the photographs of last year, an error of Frankenstein-ian proportion (on accounts he was made up of sewn together limbs from various cadavers). It is only when you received an email saying “your race photos are now ready” that you come to the conclusion that the organizers, in their great wisdom, decided to outsource the photography function, thereby requesting participants to pay extra for their race photos! And the prices are in dollars, and the pictures cost almost as much the registration (for a few) and for all it costs more than the registration.

On the other hand, you have the Runq8 10KM run, they posted 6 albums with a total of over 4,000 pictures, for free, on their facebook page.

Problem is, I was looking forward to the finish line photos, as well as the actual run photos, as I was running in costume, alas.

Ungrateful runners. Despite being upset with the organizers, I made a promise to myself during the race that I would berate the participants for not being kind/polite to the volunteers. These people take time out of their lives to stand in the sun to offer you water/ food at refueling stations. The least you can do as a runner is smile and say thank you. Or if that is too taxing for you simply pat your chest like a gorilla.

Delayed start time. Race was 15 minutes late. Even worse, the countdown was extremely anticlimactic. Next time get a blow horn or a starting gun to give flavor.

Short distance. The half marathon was actually 20.83KM. Short by around 300M.

Pro’s:

Cool new medal design to make up for the repetition of the previous year (with difference only in color).

Better finishing line. removal of the sharp left turn at the finish line was a welcome surprise.

Maximized usage of non-essential road. to prevent closure of important roads, the 10, 21 & 42KM runners ran past the National Assembly all the way to KPC building almost to the intersection with route 85, reducing the need to block a major portion of the main road (route 25).

Good weather. Not attributed to the organizers.

Newly paved road. Also not attributed to the organizers.

I am not too ticked off with the event. It showed the resilience of the human spirit. I have not run a half marathon since the Spark Marathon earlier this year in January, I was afraid I’d be slow, however muscle memory kicked in, and I ended up finishing the race in a time similar to January, so I am one happy runner.

@Runq8Official 10K Review – Nov 2016 @Forwardinspire

Better late than never!

The most anticipated running event of the year has always been and always will be the Runq8 official 10KM run.

This year, we went back to the roots of the event, starting from the “almost” same position as their inaugural run that took place 6 years ago – the Scientific Center.

Throngs of people came out to enjoy the weather and partake in the run, which for the first time in its history boasted a 5KM run as well, a distance to fit the appetite of any and all runners in Kuwait.

You will find below our review, as always, of the run:

Con’s:

NOT ENOUGH BATHROOM FACILITIES! We cannot stress this enough, these events gather a minimum of 1,500 runners. In all honesty, 3 or 4 bathroom stalls for all of these people is INHUMAN (and not the good kind form Marvel Comics). The Scientific Center had an area closed off that contained bathrooms, forcing everyone to go to the bathrooms near the restaurants, with LONG queues. I had to run all the way to the end near the KPTC marina to use the bathroom. Not good planning.

Direction Misconception. Before the start of the race, people were literally lined up facing each other, myself included, as there was confusion regarding the starting direction, which took time to resolve and saw a bunch of teeny tiny girls from BBS standing IN FRONT of the start line, just to be in the picture. It was chaotic.

Bottleneck at the Turn: The design of the start of the course was terrible, as it saw a huge number of runners charge a distance of under 100M and then come to a sharp turn to head towards Marina. Those that were unfortunate enough to not start on the front line had to wait a few minutes, walking, to pass this impasse. This turns gets Double Mention as it also made for a very annoying left turn at the finish line.

Confused Medics. During the return from the 10KM, I saw 2 ambulances driving around each other, a short while later (around 1KM) I came across a participant that had obviously fainted and had friends elevating her feet. I looked behind me, no ambulance. There was no way to communicate to the ambulances that a runner had fainted. What if it were serious and they needed immediate medical attention?

Race village ransacked. The greatest time at any event commences at the finish line; the high 5’s and well done’s shared, in addition to the booths and freebies. However, this time the booths were not all running related, or did not have freebies to be given, in stark contrast to the previous years where one would end up filling a second goody bag. In addition, the majority of foodstuffs provided seemed to be behind the counters of the booths. Now this could mean that people simply threw their garbage away there, but it could also mean that the non-runners ransacked the food giveaways before the runners returned.

Pet peeves. The event attracts a lot of runners and walkers. Not all are comfortable around dogs. Especially large ones. Since the event did not specify runners can bring pets, it should be informed next time, so no one is left feeling uncomfortable.

Short distance. The run was off by about 150-200M.

Did not start on time. The race was delayed by 15 minutes.

Pro’s:

Awesome new design for the t-shirt. Orange is definitely the new black when it comes to this years shirt.

Cool goody bag. The runner’s pouch was a great addition to the goody bag, as well as the earphones, the bandana.

Review of Sustainable Youth Team Relay Run – Jun 16

As with any fledgling concept, there is always bound to be a few “snags” along the path towards a perfect event. This time we were no strangers to the problems, however, we’ll line up how we plan to tackle them in the future.

Deborah (1 of 1)-90

Since day one we’ve been a provider of low-tech races. Our registration process seems to confuse people so let us break it down first before we get into the review:

Deborah (1 of 1)-127

  1. You read about our event and are interested to attend, you are given a link to fill a registration form on survey monkey.
  2. We receive your information, through excel magic, we take the data and put it into tabular form.
  3. We send out a confirmation email asking people to confirm their attendance.
  4. People respond and confirm, we start assigning them to teams, again through excel and filters on age, gender and level of activity.
  5. We send out an email to the teams confirming their colors and getting the captains involved in motivating their teams.

Deborah (1 of 1)-62

The problem is, people don’t check their emails often, much to my chagrin. I have 5 emails synced to my phone simultaneously, and some people cannot manage one.

What happens is they sign up, but don’t confirm in time, by the time they confirm, i’ve already assigned teams and they’re even, and we’re out of space.

Then those that confirmed and got assigned to team’s don’t show up…

Without further ado, let’s start with the cons:

  1. Did not start on time. People signed up, confirmed, got assigned to teams, and did not show up. Whats more, one individual who signed up informed me he needed a visa to come to Kuwait, at 1:30PM (race was at 10PM). People kept arriving late despite us requesting them to be there by 9:20PM.
  2. Time lost explaining concept. Despite having captains, several of the “casual joiners” who happened across our multicolored starting point wanted to participate, seeing as we had ample t-shirts available, and in line with our slogan of sports for all and all for sports, we let them in. Language barrier and sports barrier aside, they made for some excellent additions, specifically the veiled mother and her daughters and son, despite her daughter pulling out, the mother ran the race. Next time, we’ll make a roll-up banner explaining the race concept in two languages.
  3. Cotton T-shirts. I know, I know! Cotton t-shirts and runs do not mix! However, we don’t have the funding to get the t-shirts from abroad and store them until such time we have an event, so we need to get them locally, and dry-fit t-shirts are not readily available locally.
  4. Food shortage. Given that it was Ramadan we had hoped to provide people with a meal after the race, we were just short of 120 participants, and we’d ordered 150 meals. However, some people did not find meals at the end. suggested remedy – food for runners only. Runners were given wristbands for the race, at the end of the race, swap wrist band for meal. No band, no meal.
  5. Lack of coverage. Given that we are a very small outfit (only two organizers were responsible for getting the race up and running), we don’t have a camera person readily available. The timing also made it difficult to get people in addition to the short-notice-ness of the event – were asked to plan and execute in a very short period of time. Next time, i’ll invest in a camera myself and start taking pictures. However, despite this, we still managed to get some awesome shots courtesy of the super talented JCPQ8 (instagram) and the video by the awesome Baher Jaberi (link).
  6. Directions were not clear. We assumed when we said the Oredoo playground at Mishref Pedestrian walkway that people would know exactly where. Our bad. Next time, we posting the exact location on instagram.
  7. No medical attention. Trust me when I say, communicating with the concerned authorities is a hassle. Despite having MOH approval for our last race, no ambulance showed up. Same case this time. We apologize profusely to those that were injured during the run and hope you recover soon!
  8. Small stage. When we first envisioned this endeavor, we planned to MC from the stage, then later we added the idea of contests, however the size of the stage could not accommodate all willing participants. Remedy, bigger stage next time around.

Pro’s:

  1. First of its kind. The comments on instagram continue to bring a smile to my face, people actually enjoyed the event immensely, including the injured folk!
  2. In-tune with concept. When we first started, we wanted a race that was different that could be enjoyed by all. Looking at the pictures from the event, everyone enjoyed themselves, whether they were built as sprinters or not.
  3. Party so hard it was stopped by the police. ‘Nuff said.
Deborah (1 of 1)-116

Lady in the black veil

The lady in the black veil is my new hero. She showed up at the event with her daughters and son and they all wanted to run. When the race started, one of her daughters opted to not run thinking its too hard. Not mom tho. She went for it. And everyone cheered. And that is the point behind SYQ8, there’s no cookie-cutter for runners, we come from all walks of life.

@SustainableYouthQ8 – Redefining the Running scene in Kuwait

Now I’m not just saying this because I organized it, but based on the comments on Instagram and our FB page, the sustainability of Sustainable Youth is indeed going forward!

We started with a 5K team run in February of 2016 unlike any 5K race seen before in Kuwait. Last Friday night we took our uniqueness a step further and introduced the Team Relay concept to Kuwait, at Mishref Running Track.

Granted, there were a few setbacks, which we will discuss in detail in a later post, however the culmination of it is this: People had fun. People had a lot of fun.

Check out the video below:

And don’t worry, as people have to expect, the review is coming soon 😉

Sustainable Youth Kuwait Community 5KM Team Run Review

At first people were skeptical, how could this event be free? What was the catch? Are the medals for everyone or just the top 3? Last 3? What is going on here?!

Yesterday marked the first time I ever took part with a group to organize a race, under the banner of Sustainable Youth.

Sustainable Youth is meant to highlight the fact that our own youth is in our hands; by living a life of activity, we can remain forever young. And that is what was most prevalent yesterday; looking around the participants, seeing happy faces, young and old, veteran runners and newbies, all united in their quest to have a great time.

Our goal was simple; the race would not be won by the first person crossing the finish line, rather by the last. For each participant crossing the finish line earned their team points, if teams were unequally distributed in terms of numbers, the age-old mathematical trick of cross-multiplication helped to level the playing field.

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

Team GreenIsMean! 

As an organizer, I was proud of the event we put together on such short notice, we had around 4 weeks from the time our project was approved by En.v to the time we had to implement the event, at that time I had managed to get 50 people to sign up and be interested in the event, of course it was no walk in the park from there.

Registrations, confirmations, cancellations, requested affiliations, suffice to say I lost a few friends along the way, but I ended up making MORE FRIENDS than i’d lost, so all-in-all, it was quite rewarding.

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

The Yellow Sparows! (gentleman in the top right was a last second addition, who drove by after the race had started, got out of his car, asked to be signed up, got back in his car, drove to park it, then ran the race and to the finish line – which is as you recall, THE ORIGINAL STORY BEHIND OUR VIDEO!”

The email we had made for the event had a problem; Google refused to let us send out bulk BCC emails, so I had to rely on my personal email for that, with around 14 different threads and 100 conversations or so.

Participants: We had 112 participants show up, out of a total of 156 we had heard back from. 72% attendance.

Food: in excess.

Giveaways: plenty remained, everyone was accommodated.

On race-day some people showed up that were neither registered or waiting list, we took them in as well.

We recruited the registered runners to help us out behind the table, special mention goes to everyone that stepped up and helped make this event a success.

It has been referred to as the M&M’s run, and the Skittles run. And we love the names!

The first four to cross the finish line, surprisingly, were one from each of the 4 teams! Red finished first, however as we said from the beginning, it was never about who finishes first, but this just goes to prove how equally the teams were distributed!

Now, I must step outside my role as organizer and critique the run I organized, as I have made a reputation of doing:

Cons:

1- Demarcations were not clear

When I arrived at 7:30AM that day, I had one mission in addition to organizing, demarcating the path – I’d printed papers to stick up along the path, to make the race a series of 500M runs. The day was very windy and the papers were quite flimsy. After I got to Salwa Al-Sabah hall and turned around (2KM & 3KM markers) I was putting up the before last marker (4KM, at the Sultan Al Jazeera area) when security showed up. Now security along the path belong to Marina, and we’re hosting the event at the Scientific Center ON Marina’s walking path. So of course they required authorizations, paperwork, approvals etc. Which we did not have from Marina. Fortunately, they let it slide and even gave me a ride for 500M in their electric car.

(props to @thescarletzeaster for being my executive manager and handling all phone calls as I went for a run!)

2- The start line was chaotic

We apologize profusely to Tami590 for her injury, which was as a result of OUR oversight, in that the start line was LONG, and the two poles in the middle were unseen by the people in the back as they began their run, so we sincerely apologize for that oversight.

3- No music

Planning the event on a frugal budget and having our mind focused entirely on the run made us miss entertainment, however we sincerely hope that the antics of @mradamantine made up for it!

4- Finish line banner placed on floor

Runners favorite moment is running through the finish line, however the one we had made was quite heavy, and was presenting a challenge both hold up and run through, so we decided to put it on the ground and have people run over it instead.

IMG-20160213-WA0038 (1)

Team Red Rage!

5- Everyone was running back

Initially we had communicated to our participants that only captains and co-captains would run back, however, when we saw that everyone was motivating everyone to run back, and that we had plenty of eyes at the finish line to tell us who had crossed before and who hadn’t to ensure no extra points were given by mistake, we decided to allow the people to motivate everyone!

What was beyond amazing was how everyone rose to the opportunity and motivated their team, not just caps & co-caps.

6- No ambulance

We contacted the MOH, they approved our request, an ambulance WAS supposed to come, however, nothing. We also contacted the MOI and got police approval, as well as the governor of Hawally to gather a crowd together, and yet no police came.

Pro’s:

1- as far as first events go, this was not that bad!

2- we reached out goal of motivating people to motivate others, which was something one of the mentors at En.v was skeptical we would achieve. I remember clearly he kept saying, you are assuming. What he failed to realize however was that in my core, I am a runner, and I KNOW how runners are. We’re the people who are over-eager and always happy to help strangers, we give advice when needed and remain silent when needed. We show support by running shoulder to shoulder with strangers and motivating them to reach their potential.

3- M&M’s and Skittles, the shirts were mutli-colored, the people were as different as you could imagine. Older, younger, faster, slower, smaller, bigger – but it wasn’t in how different we all were, as opposed to reflective we were of each other’s spirit – that of sustainable youth. Running is one sport where you can be as competitive as you want or as friendly as you want, there are two extremely and a million places in between where you can land.

4- Everyone was happy, no one was competitive, everyone was co-operative. Your individual finishing time did not matter, what mattered was your team’s collective finishing points, and guess what? we had points going up to 55 minutes, but EVERYONE was done by about 48 minutes, which is no small feat!

5- the t-shirts came out looking awesome, the logo was awesome, the medals were awesome, the trophies were awesome, the recipients who were captains were flabbergasted (especially our most influential runner who was not even paying attention to the guy on the mic as he sang him praise!).

What happens now?

If you think this is the end, you’re thoroughly mistaken. I saw the amount of fun people had, and save for one individual who had something negative to say about the race, we aim to ensure everyone is this happy again.

Our first time was free as it was completely funded by En.v, we plan to see where we can go from here, knowing full well the pricing of standard races in Kuwait.

The hope now is to find a sponsor willing to put their name on this project and write it off under Corporate Social Responsibility, now comes the difficult part of writing it up and pitching it, so if you know anyone that might be interested, please do send us their details.

IMG-20160213-WA0039

The winner’s and inaugural champions – Les Bleus!

Thank you to everyone that contributed to making this event a success.

Special mention goes to the wives of runners, who prove that behind every great runner there is a great wife that sacrifices and volunteers to help the common goal be reached, we were fortunate to meet two such lovely ladies (3 including my wife).

#SYQ8 #4forfitness #raiseawareness #Kuwait #healthy #physical #active #sports #Fitness #exercise #foreverfitq8 #freefitness #Running #Mindovermatter #yourhealthmatters #healthyq8 #tiretodaybettertomorrow #buildothersup #4awareness #4teams4health

The champions!

Review of the #NorthFaceChallenge 2016 @q8sportsevents @thenorthface @thenorthfacekwt

This past Saturday witnessed the 4th version of The North Face Challenge in Kuwait, organized by Pro-Vision.

(I have postponed writing this review as I have been very heavily involved in organizing my very own first community project, a 5KM team run this saturday morning, so apologies for the delay).

Initially, I was not slated to compete at TNFC, frankly because I feel it is overpriced, and based on the statements of people that took part in the earlier versions, quality has been steadily deteriorating, with give-away’s becoming virtually non-existent.

Map

The trail began as follows; short run uphill (soft sand), small rock climb, run on flat surface for a good distance, DANGEROUS run downhill (rocks), flat lands run till base-camp, run uphill (softer sand), run downhill, run uphill (SOFTEST SAND EVER), climb ladder, run to the side, run downhill (soft sand), back at starting point. Repeat X5.

Here are the pro’s and con’s of the race, as we saw and as we heard from several racers:

1- No medals

It is no secret that runners sole drive for participating in races is bling. The organizer claimed that it is a “challenge”, and the challenge was to complete 5-laps in a desert terrain, equaling around 17KM within a cut-off time of 2hrs30mins.

Now I do not know on which basis they decided to select this cut off time, maybe the organizer had an important breakfast meeting he had to run off to, but the fact remains that after checking the official North Face Challenges website (link), I concluded that the cut off time was too short. Here is how I arrived at that conclusion:

For their Marathons (trail) the cut-off time was 8hrs.

Half-Marathon (trail) cut-off time was 4hrs.

10KM (trail) cut off time was 2hrs.

The average runner would complete those distances in half that time, 4, 2, 1 hour respectively. They allotted double the time. Why? Because TRAILS.

Now the cut-off time given by pro-vision was 2hrs30mins, which even if the race were FLAT GROUND, would require 1hr37minutes to complete, meaning they only gave an extra hour, which still does not take into account that this race was a TRAIL, with several climbs.

2- No recognition

Most people refused to give up, even after they were counted out unceremoniously by the organizer, and pushed and persevered to complete the distance, however, upon arriving at the finish line, the timer had already stopped, and all their efforts were for naught. Not only that, the organizers had begun packing up to leave already, removing their signage etc. A sincere low-blow to people that made the effort to drive out 40 or so KM to the base camp. You were the reason they drove there, you better ensure they all leave intact.

3- Dangerous cliffs

As always, the organizer made a habit of yelling at everyone to keep quiet and to explain the terrain of the race. Not once did he bother to give any tips on running up sand dunes or more importantly, running down cliffs. When I was navigating the first downhill stretch, I was going on instinct, and felt more mountain goat than man:

mountain goat

There was only one volunteer at the top, and a camera man that moved towards the cliff as the race progressed, however there was no medical personnel in the area or any other volunteers that could assist should anyone be unfortunate enough to land incorrectly. What’s more there was a downhill jump that had a piece of metallic wiring for the first lap, obviously knocked over by a runner, which could have caused serious injury.

4- No food

Despite the organizers promising meals to the participants, there was not enough to go around, as by the time some finished, the food was already out. So no medal, and no food. Hey, atleast you could get your fill of water.

5- No Gatorade

In addition, the number one thing you need once you’re done with a TRAIL race in the DESERT is electrolyte replenishment.

Was there adequate gatorade? No. What the organizer was doing however was watering it down and giving each participant the equivalent of a few sips. And by the time the race was done the Gatorade was out.

What did they choose to pack in the “meals”? Gatorade you say? WRONG! Juice – Mango, Cocktail and Apple.

6- Faulty toilets

One of the bathroom stalls in the male bathroom had a door that does not close/lock. ’nuff said. How much does a lock cost? How difficult is it to inspect a door prior to driving out that giant porta-cabin to the desert?

7- Trash left behind

A friend that went out to enjoy the trails yesterday was shocked to discover the mess left behind by the organizers, who did not even have the courtesy to clean up after themselves. Just because it is the middle of nowhere does not alleviate the obligation of environmental awareness.

8- Bottlenecks

The ladder was a terrible idea, a bottleneck that would cause  a pile up as people stopped to catch their breath whilst climbing. There should have been alternatives.

editors note: 9- cut-off time for registration

a dear reader (#4 on the podium – Greg Ziembinski) brought it to our attention that one of the problems he saw with the race was that a lot of people that deserved a chance to run the race were denied because they’d reached capacity. Now, this makes us think, for next time, why don’t the organizers specify a minimum requirement for the challenge, seeing as how they officially came on record and said it is not for everyone, but instead of taking people’s money and not giving them a medal because they did not complete the race, set a condition for people participating, like they must have completed a half-marathon in under two hours etc. Something that people can see, compare to themselves, and then leave registration spots open for those that have earned them.

Just a thought.

Thanks Greg!

Pro’s

1- Super difficult trail

details

The race took me 2hrs6mins to complete, of which 1hr44mins were moving time. I set my watch to autopause, therefore the race required almost 20 minutes of walking time in the sand.

2- Supportive crowd

Everyone was super supportive of their fellow runners, showing the true bonds of this fraternity.

3- Not as sandy as people made you believe

Everyone was going on and on about how the biggest problem was sand in your shoes. Instagram is littered with pictures of people with their shoes over their shoulders, and several people on race-day sat on the sidelines to get sand out of their shoes. Some had fashioned their own anti-sand covers, whilst others went for store-brought. I did neither, and had very little sand in my shoes.

The key is: thick socks.

12592660_10156460703590065_4587920574472222554_n

As you can see we were not shy about getting our feet ankle deep in dunes

If we had to do this run all over again, we would urge the organizers to plot a course that does not have ALL THE UP/DOWN hills in one area, back-to-back.

Stay tuned as I review my own race next.

Once upon a run – a tale of Sustainable Youth

You may have noticed that our blog writing activities had decreased significantly over the past month; the reason being we were involved with a new endeavor – planning our first running event!

You can find out more about the event through our instagram post @sustainableyouthq8, as well as our Facebook page (link).

And now, we even have a promotional video:

As far as first attempts go, we’re quite satisfied with the final product. It is worth mentioning however that the final product that came out was not originally what we had intended, here is what happened along the way:

a. The approval to go ahead with the project came later than expected; a project of this magnitude (140+ runners) requires plenty of planning and follow-up, we were given around 3 weeks to put this thing together.

b. The event is called Sustainable Youth, it is meant to be “how to achieve sustainable youth”, not to empower the youth in Kuwait, not an effort by the youth of Kuwait, but an endeavor to bring sustainable youth to everyone in Kuwait.

The original script of the video called for the character to be walking, reminiscing. All of the sudden, he would see runners coming at him, he is supposed to lean forward as if to fall over, followed by a black screen and the sound of gasps, to signify that he might have been trampled by the runners.

However, the running team, although being requested to appear in two different locations, misunderstood and kept going. We were waiting at the midway point, we would then go to the finishing point to shoot the finale.

Once that happened the original idea was out of the window.

c. We had only one day of shooting, as the running group convenes on a saturday, so we made the most of what we had.

d. The video was being shot in Kuwait and edited abroad, put together, then sent back to Kuwait for review. This was not the first we viewed, we had to work on it again.

The new story is that the old man is telling the world that despite appearing as old, there is still gas left in the tank.

We thank you for your viewing and hope to see you at the event, on February 13th, 8:30AM at the Scientific Center.

#SparkMarathon Review 2016 @q8sportevents

Yesterday marked the inaugural run for Spark Marathon, a new contender on the running calendar of Kuwait.

The event was put on courtesy of the following sponsors:

sponsors

As we’ve done in the past, we’ll breakdown the positives and the negatives of the race – starting with the negatives:

  1. Total Takeover by Total employees: at the starting line, there was a very distinct sea of redcaps bearing the Total logo, despite them not being an official sponsor of any sort. What they did however was plant their employees at the start-line for some shameless self promotion, on the very front of the line, despite 90% of them not being dressed for running! This negatively affected the actual runners in the back who had to maneuver around them, in addition to the fact that they started IN FRONT OF the race line, meaning their bibs and chips didn’t even register. More care should have been given by the organizers to ensure they start the race like everyone else.

12545416_1529553034009260_1512260723_n2. Nonexistent markers: the organizers spent a hefty dime getting the road ready for race-day, with banners for the sponsors everywhere along the coastline. Would it not have been a smart move to also include a small sheet of paper at every KM signalling to runners where they were? There were even truss’s along the way, with no apparent logic to their placement save more advertising space! I was stuck doing mathematics along the way as I switched my GPS watch to Pace; I was a little past KFC and wound up thinking – ok, from Marina to Green Island is 5KM, from Green Island to Towers is another 5 or so KM, I’m almost at the towers which means I’ve done about 9 or so KMs. Too much math for a run! Just put up signs for the love of the road.

3. No giveaways: the biggest giveaway that there would be no giveaways for the runners was the running path, emblazoned with signage all the way from flags along the side to giant cranes carry giant banners advertising a giant sponsor. Runners pay the fees to take part in the race for the giveaways, sponsors pay money to get their name mentioned. What happened at Spark Marathon was a purely commercial stunt whereby the money went to the organizers from both participant and sponsor, and nothing trickled down to the participants in the form of giveaways. Low blow.

4. Cotton t-shirts: it has become a longstanding tradition to expect a dry-fit shirt from the seasoned organizers, however all we got was cotton. I’m sure to change it into lounge-wear-come-pj-top and end up running in my dreams.

5. Gatorade on the run: gatorade replenishes electrolytes, runners need to replenish electrolytes on the run, but they DO NOT NEED A FULL BOTTLE TO DO SO! A major mistake on the part of the organizers was putting all the electrolytes ON THE RUN as opposed to on the finish line! Runners ended up taking a sip or two and tossing it aside, a HUGE waste. The RAK Half-Marathon had plastic cups of two sips or so of gatorade along the run, which is what the organizers should have done.

6. Short distance: the 21.1KM was short by 100Meters. Puts me in a crappy position as I just nailed a new PR but Garmin won’t recognize it because the race was not exactly 21.1.

7. Race village: the race village was completely lack luster this year. Runners were offered pre-made packs of one orange, one banana, one bottle of water, one coconut water and a granola bar. Now, the organizers made the assumption that everyone requires the absolute BARE MINIMUM to recuperate, whether they ran 5, 10, 21 or 42KM.

8. Prize money in Half: now this is what the organizers put as the winning pot for the lucky top 3:

prizes

Now people would believe that that means each first place finisher would get the full amount, as is evident in the photo below:

winners

However, we were told that the prize money was split between #1 Male & Female, meaning they each get half the pot only.  edit: we were told that the prizes was half cash, half cash in kind i.e. flights from Kuwait Airways, dental procedures at Bayan Dental, medical checks at Seef Hospital etc. which is all well if you reside in Kuwait, however if you are not a resident of Kuwait, as the majority of the top winners were, these gifts are useless and infuriated the winners.

Benefits:

  1. Good medals
  2. Great ambiance

For a race that was meant to “kick start a movement that will integrate sport & fitness into the very fabric of society” (link), the only thing that got integrated was our hard earned money into the pockets of the organizers. Here’s hoping that next race is more participant-centric.

As far as personal achievement is concerned, this race proved that the winning formula for long distance runs is short distance speed workouts. Specifically 200M sprint, 200M jog X 10 (i.e. 4KM). With that regiment every other day, and the 30-day-shred on the other day, I was able to shave off 6 minutes from my time in the Gulf Bank Marathon and achieve a new PR of 1hr41mins.

In addition to that I was the designated pace-setter for the 1hr40, although I ended up overshooting it by 1 minute, it serves as a reminder that whatever the mind believes, the body can achieve.

And if you’re looking forward to the next running event, look no further than here.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

error: Sorry, Ctrl+C/V disabled; if you wish to use this content please contact us :)
%d bloggers like this: