Excitement mounts a week ahead of record-breaking Al Mouj Muscat Marathon

With just a week remaining until the start of the 2018 Al Mouj Muscat Marathon on January 19th, excitement is growing as final preparations are made for what has now become a fully recognised international athletic event.
This year’s bigger and better event has attracted a record entry to what is now a two-day festival of running, with more than 6,000 athletes registered to compete across six events in what has become the centrepiece of the Oman sporting calendar.
A total of 6,051 runners are set to take the start of the full Marathon, Half-marathon, 10km race and three other new race categories, a dramatic increase from the 1,290 who took part in the 2017 event.
The growing international flavour of the event was shown last when the men’s race was won by Belgian athlete Pierre Breuer and the women’s by Icelandic runner Asta Parker. In 2018, local Omani runners have been joined by athletes from no fewer than 86 countries around the world.
The entry list shows substantial numbers hailing from India, Britain, the Philippines and France, closely followed by significant groupings from South Africa, the US, Pakistan and Ireland, along with hundreds more from countries ranging from Australia, Brazil and China to Venezuela, Wales and Yemen.
All of them can look forward to perfect running conditions a beautiful coastal course along the Muscat shoreline.
Acknowledging the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon’s growth to maturity, world running’s international governing body AIMS – the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races – has formally recognised the event for the first time. In addition, the course has been precisely measured to meet global International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF standards meaning it can be directly compared with similar events worldwide, making the course eligible for recognised record-breaking performances.
And to facilitate personal best and possible record times, ‘pacers’ will be joining the Marathon, Half-marathon and 10km races. These experienced runners – identified by their bright vests – will provide a pacing ‘bus’ to guide runners to their target times. Each pacer will have a target time clearly displayed and will run a slightly slower first half of their race, speeding up over the final kilometres to ‘pull’ runners along to the target time.
First held in 2012 with just 135 competitors, the Muscat Marathon has gone from strength to strength. Organised for its first five years by the local Muscat Road Runners organisation, the grassroots event has now extended its international reach thanks to the event management expertise of Oman Sail and the support of title sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, the renowned waterfront destination.
“Oman Sail was delighted to become involved with such a well-founded event in 2017 and we are happy to have been successful in building on that and broadening its appeal for 2018,” said Salma Al Hashmi Oman Sail CMO.
“It has always been part of our pioneering mission to contribute to the social and economic development of the Sultanate of Oman, and the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon works on all counts. It is a celebration of health and fitness and it is the perfect opportunity to showcase Oman’s particular blend of beauty and culture to international visitors,” she added.
Aside from the challenge of the marathon and its associated events, Oman offers a unique combination of adventure, sports and distinctive destinations, notably the vibrant Mutrah Souq and nearby Corniche, the imposing and ornate Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and the striking Royal Opera House, all in the Muscat area. For those prepared to go further afield, Wadi Shab west of Sur, Jabrin Fort, Wahiba Sands, the Oman Fjords away in the north of the country, and Oman’s many spectacular coastal locations all offer an unforgettable experience for the more adventurous traveller.
For the new-look Al Mouj Muscat Marathon event itself, the first day will see a new running category – a Kids’ Run– on Thursday, January 18, which will feature three courses: 1km for children aged 7 and 8; 2.5km for 9 and 10 year-olds; and a 4km course for youngsters aged 11 and 12. No fewer than 2,372 young runners have entered.
The following day, January 19, features the main event with the full Marathon, as well as the Half-marathon and 10km races.
In a record-breaking 2018 entries have more than doubled for the Marathon itself – up by 52% – with the number of registrations for the Half-marathon and 10km events up by no less than 75% and 72% respectively with 684 and 1,285 runners.
At the same time there is another new category for 2018, a Marathon Relay open to teams of four to six runners who will each run part of the full 42km course with trophies on offer for the winning male, female and mixed teams with at least two female runners.
Overall, the youngest runner will be among the seven year-olds on the 1km Kids’ Run course, while the oldest entry is 73 year-old Edwige Van Den Assem, who is travelling from Dubai for the 10km women’s race. Meanwhile the 5km Charity Fun Run – a third new running category which offers the chance to support an organisation at the heart of an Omani national campaign to fight diabetes – has attracted 1,097 entries. The Oman Diabetes Association (ODA) is at the forefront of a project to prevent and reduce diabetes in the Sultanate and improve the lives of those already suffering from the disease.