Back in March, I tackled the 6:50 here in Qatar. Basically it was 10 times a 5km loop for a 50km with a six hour cut off, starting at 6pm in the dark. Simple!
To be honest, I shouldn’t have done it. I was still recovering from Wadi Bih Ultra after which I’d managed to knock my back out and it was still a working in progress to get it fixed. I literally rolled over the road from the physiotherapists to the start line (and she still doesn’t know that I ran the race). I came home second lady, but I wasn’t happy with my sub-par performance. The race was held as a test event for the IAU 50km World Cup race scheduled for the autumn.
Fast-forward seven months and not quite the passing of a blistering summer and I was stood on the start line again. I knew the event was going to be brutal. Summer has been slow to leave Qatar this year and it was humid, knocking 80 percent, which combined with the heat saps energy.
I really wanted to put in a strong run, but I knew my mileage was lacking due to summer, as was some speed work, and I’d been laid low for the last week with a cold. It was touch and go if I’d even make the start line…again. Was this race to be my nemesis?
I guess I always knew I’d show for the start – that’s my mentality and then wing it as far as I could. At least with loops I wasn’t going to be sat on the side of a trail waiting for rescue.
A quick sip on the honey and lemon and I was ready for the off. This run was always going to be fast and with the elites up front the pace was blistering. We started on the same route as the test event, rapidly being thrown into darkness onto the uneven concrete cobbles of Aspire.
For this event though, the team had signed up some cheer squads to keep us going. Passing the first aid station we were back into light and winding our way off the old route and up onto the tarmac of Sports City Road.
With a leaded surface under their feet, the elites surged ahead. Top tip here – the running line hugs the curb and is not up the middle of the road. I made this error for the first five loops before getting lapped by the elites and twigging I was in the wrong place and that’s why I was lapping long. The road is really runnable but is also a sneaky uphill drag.
U-turn at the top and a fast pace back down past Aspetar (the sports hospital where my physio resides) and back onto Aspire turf…well concrete slab and another aid station. Another slight gradient, U-turn and an out and back towards the Torch Hotel through the drop zone and back past over the start makes one loop.
The start also brings runners alongside the deafening clamour of the now infamous Doha Bay Running Club Bodge-it Band. Instruments include a cow bell, upturned water drum, pot of rice shaker and wooden blocks. Certainly something to keep the runners running…fast!
I held pace well until the fifth lap but then the cobbles, heat and lack of training bit and I had to back off. I obviously got something wrong as I started to cramp in my calves come lap 7. Oops!
With three laps to go, I could hang on long enough to get the job done and finish in 4 hours 24 minutes. I would have liked 4 hours 10 but my time was good enough for Open Lady (non elite obviously 🙂 ) and Female GCC Resident – which is the first time ultra titles have been presented in the region.
The IAU 100km has also been opened to GCC residents. It’s very close though…not sure if I’ll have recovered in time. It’s so tempting though and dusk to dawn-ish run.