Tag Archives: half marathon

The Fastest Half Marathon in the World

team, RAK half marathonWith sub-60 minute times posted in the past, the Ras-al-Kaimah (RAK) Half Marathon is marketed as the fastest half in the world, and it certainly lived up to that as I came in under my target time of 1 hour and 30 minutes, a personal best by a long margin.

The day started very early indeed, with a 3.15am alarm and a very bleary early breakfast before loading up the car and scooting off to make three pick-ups in and around the Marina. My fellow runners for the day were Jan, a fellow tri-Pirate, Katia, a friend whom I met during the wadi camping trip, and Lauren, who I have been running with in preparation for today and, in eight weeks, her first London Marathon. The drive itself was simple and traffic free meaning that we arrived with good time to spare. As such, there was time aplenty to make the obligatory loo stop – an essential pre-race ritual, as I am sure any athlete would agree – as well as get some more breakfast, and even dash back to the car to apply the all-important Vaseline. Those of you who may choose to snigger at the mention of said lubricant would think again if you had just run 21km, as it is, in my opinion, one of the most useful and important bits of athletic kit there is, saving many a runner, and cyclist alike, from suffering painful chafing. There, I said it: chafing.

The RAK half is very well organised, with a dedicated baggage drop, organised such that belongings are dropped off in the official bags provided, and even post-race printed certificates on offer. Despite the delayed start to the race, meaning that we did have to endure longer than was necessary of being literally deafened by the announcer, everyone was in great spirits as the conditions for the race were perfect: little to no breeze, cool temperatures and a nice wide, flat course, clearly marked and with plenty of drinks stops along the way.

Once the race got under way, I chose to get into the rhythm with The Rolling Stones greatest hits album, in preparation for their gig next week, and quickly established a good comfortable rhythm, finding the first twelve or so kilometers actually pretty cruisey. In fact, I found myself overtaking fellow triathletes that I didn’t really feel as though I had any place passing, which did make me feel a little concerned at one point that maybe I was pushing a little too hard early on and that I might have been due a brick wall to hit. As it turned out that was not the case and I maintained a relatively steady average pace of 4:20 per km right the way up until the 14th kilometer, before stepping on the gears in order to still be in stead to hit my target time.

The first 5km were comfortable and I clocked 25minutes for that – a pretty standard, unimpressive performance. The second 5km, taking us to 10km, was similarly comfy and was, in fact, faster, being completed in a little over 21 minutes. Looking at my splits I did actually get faster and faster as the race progressed, with the third 5km being even quicker at a little over 20 minutes, and the final 5km being run in under 20 minutes, which I am so pleased with. At about 16km I just put my head down, gritted my teeth and went for it, knowing that I had to dig really deep in order to bring home the sub 90 minute time I was so desperate to achieve. The final 700m were tough – I mean, real tough – and I put everything in to cross the line no less than 8 seconds under the 1 hour 30 minute target. To say I was elated is an understatement. The result was a huge vindication of the merits of all the training to date and having a good, solid race preparation and plan in place, something that I am realising more and more to be so important.

The post-race meet up with friends, who had all also run really great times, was awesome fun, and after getting the essential post-race photos, we all piled in the car to head over to the Tower Links golf course for a hearty breakfast to fortify us for the journey back to Dubai, and a well earned afternoon of doing very little other than putting my feet up.

A great race and a fantastic personal result. I am feeling even more buoyed and confident for Lake Tahoe in September. I will just need to ensure I keep up a high level of running fitness over the summer. I would certainly recommend anyone to sign up and do the RAK Half Marathon, whether it be your first ever half or you’re a seasoned runner.

Some stats:

Finish time (net) = 1:29:52

Finish position (net) = 130 (out of a total field of 1831 runners who started the race (in the top 7%)

Gender position (net) = 105th

73rd out of 930 UAE residents.

59th out of 613 UAE male residents.

6th of 45 UAE runners in my specific age group, and 34th out of 270 Brits racing.

One of those days

You may be expecting that with a title like that this may be a blog post about a shitty day at work, or some other slightly melancholy topic. Well no. This one is actually about one of those AWESOME days. The kind of day when things just seem to click, flow and, well, work out for the best.

When the alarm went off at silly o’clock this morning it marked the start of my day in Abu Dhabi running the Abu Dhabi Striders Half Marathon, being held on Yas Island and both starting and ending at Yas Waterworld, the big waterpark that I have been wanting to go to for ages but never gotten round to doing so. Well, today was the day.

Chris with camel at Abu Dhabi Half MarathonThe last, and only other, half marathon I have run was actually a couple of years ago when I was visiting some friends in New York. I was very fortunate to be able to blag myself a place in the Brooklyn Half Marathon and had a really good race, in spite of virtually no sleep and a skin full of Manhattan cocktails the night before as way of (poor) preparation. Still, the race went swimmingly and I finished feeling really good. This time around there were no cocktails and a little more sleep, but that was was where the serious preparation ended. There have been no huge distance runs in the preceding weeks and I must confess that I have been somewhat less active than normal on the training front for the past fortnight. As such, I had no firm time targets; just a willingness to turn up and give it my best.

So, the starting klaxon went and we were off. Within the first kilometer one of the members of the tri club here in Dubai, who I know is a very strong athlete and competes at a high level in half Ironman distance triathlons, passed me with another friend. Now I thought at that point, ” ah well, off he goes. I hope he has a good race,” but I kept them in my sights relatively comfortably and so figured I would stick with them for as long as I was able and try out the pace. Well I did and comfortably for about 16km, during which I was asked what time I was going for. “Err, sub two hours would be nice,” was my answer, to which I was advised that I could probably stop if that was my aim as I was well on track. They were going for sub 1 hour 45 minutes and so I figured why not try for that then?

At 16km I was still feeling really good so I extended my pace and pulled away. I made the decision to effectively push really hard and sprint the last 2 km, and crossed the line in a time of 1 hour 37 mins 48 seconds, coming well under the initial vague target of 2 hours. And I still felt good! Who’d have thunk it?! Truly one of those times when things just seem to click and go really well.

The day then got better as I spent it hanging out with a beautiful girl at the waterpark. A great day indeed. In fact, one of those days!