Muscat, January 26th 2017: The countdown has started in earnest for more than 1300 runners who have trained long and hard for the 2017 Al Mouj Muscat Marathon tomorrow with just hours remaining before their challenge of a lifetime gets underway. For the thousands of spectators who are expected to line the route to support their friends and family members, the preparations are also in full swing with the completion of the special race village at Al Mouj Muscat, Oman’s leading lifestyle destination and home for international sailing circuits.

The 6th edition of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon has broken all previous records with an unprecedented number of entries after Oman Sail and Muscat Road Runners joined forces to expand the event. Their success is driven by the “Tanfeedh” initiative to focus on sports tourism as part of a national programme for enhancing economic diversification.

More than 1,000 of the entries are Muscat based while more than 170 have travelled from 75 different countries around the world, reflecting the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon’s growing status in the global marathon community and the Sultanate’s increased profile as a sporting tourism destination. In recognition of the event’s evolving status, Her Highness Al Sayyida Aliya bint Thuwaini Al Said will be marking the start of the 10k race which will see more than 700 runners take part in the race for the first time in its history.

Flying the flag will be main sponsors Al Mouj Muscat, Oman Air and BP Oman who will be running one-off promotional campaigns to mark their support. They include free Oman Air flights to Zurich and Singapore in two separate prize draws plus free memberships to The Wellness Centre and Horizon Fitness, who run Oman’s biggest fitness facility. Horizon Fitness will also be doing warm up sessions on the main stage before the start of each category race with runners in the full marathon scheduled to start first at 6 am with half marathon athletes starting an hour later and the 10kms race kicking off at 8.00am.

While the runners are running, the bands will be playing with live appearances from Sawahil, a traditional Omani band and a group of dancers from the Kings United Dance Institute. The Drummer Parade by New Heights Agency Oman will also be performing as part of an entertainments package that is aimed primarily at families with a kid’s zone and snacks café among other attractions.

In total, there will be around 440 female runners and more than 850 men with Asti Parker’s 2016 marathon time of 03:16:06 the target for the female marathon runners and Sami Al Saidi’s time of 02:50:20 the one to beat for the men. Last year’s half marathon time of 01:21:04 for men and 01:36:09 for women must be under threat with such a big field as is the 00:40:40 time for the 10kms men’s event and Joanna Drury’s 00:46:35.

A comprehensive handbook has been produced by the race organisers offering handy tips for achieving ‘personal bests’ or for just getting around the course along with details of Aid stations supplying water, fruit and power drinks.

Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer at Oman Sail said: “We have worked closely with the Muscat Road Runners to enhance the offerings of the marathon and position it as a must-do running event for both residents and visitors. We’re delighted by the overwhelming response that we have received from companies and volunteers in support of our mission to promote the Sultanate as a running destination and look forward to welcoming everyone to Al Mouj tomorrow.”

Other supporters of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon include Muscat Festival, Sobeh’s Medical Centre, Tanuf, Elegant Colours, the Royal Omani Amateur Radio Society and Strabag.