Tag Archives: race

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.

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

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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.

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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!

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.

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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:

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  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.

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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.
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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 😉

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

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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.

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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.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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