Some 3,250 people in Qatar are expected to don their trainers and take to the streets tomorrow for the third annual Ooredoo marathon.
During the charity event, some will run a full marathon (42.2km) course, while others partake in the half-marathon (21.1km), 10km and 5km routes.
To accommodate participants, one side of the Corniche road, heading from the Museum of Islamic Art toward West Bay, will be closed from around 6:30am to noon. Some streets around West Bay and Dafna will also be shut for the race.
Children’s fun runs of 3km and 1km will also be held, as part of the aim of the initiative is to bring residents together and promote an active and healthy lifestyle, organizers said.
The starting line for all participants will be Katara Cultural Village. Those running the full and half-marathon will go by the beach, past the St. Regis Doha and Intercontinental hotels and into Dafna/West Bay on the main thoroughfare of Omar al Mukhtar Street.
The race route then takes runners behind City Center Mall and brings the runners out on the Corniche, between the Four Seasons Doha and Sheraton Doha hotels.
Participants will then follow the full arc of the Corniche down to the Museum of Islamic Art park, and go back on the same route.
Katara will also be the finish line, after one full lap for half-marathon runners, while those undertaking the full 42.2km marathon route have to complete another full lap, from Katara down to the MIA and back.
It will be an early start for marathon and half-marathon runners, who will set off from the start line at 6:40am. Start times for the other races are:
- 10km: 7:10am
- Adult 5km: 7:40am
- Youth 5km: 8:10am
- Kids’ 3km: 9am; and
- Kids’ 1km: 9:45am.
Those taking part in the 5km and 10km runs will also start and end at Katara. The shorter route involves going out of Katara, past the hotels to the palaces and back, while the 10km route heads down to the Sheraton Doha and back. Children taking part in the fun runs will be advised of their route at Katara.
There will be spectator points at MIA park and Katara for those who wish to cheer on the runners, while the Corniche will also give good vantage points.
A number of roads will be closed to traffic in the area for the duration of the races, from 6:30am until around midday. Residents going to Dafna/West Bay tomorrow morning are advised to seek alternative routes, organizers said.
Closures will include the north-bound (sea-side) of the Corniche, for its full length, from Sheraton Park to the MIA, as well as a section of Omar al Mukhtar Street, from the St. Regis/Intercontinental hotels down to the intersection by Marriott Marquis Hotel at City Center Mall.
Registration to take part in the races has now closed, and the proceeds of the entry fees will go toward funding Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) projects in Qatar and Asia.
More than double the number of last year’s 1,500 runners are expected to take part in the races, from beginners to experienced athletes, with prizes awarded to the best runners in a range of categories, based on age and gender.
The event aims to encourage more people in Qatar to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Among those preparing to lace up their trainers for their first official run is Aisha Al-Naama, a 25-year-old Qatari engineer working for the Qatar 2022 organizing committee.
Al-Naama will be attempting to complete her first-ever half-marathon, and has been training since she made the decision to sign up, less than two months ago.
A participant of the charity trek to the Amazon in August, as well as one of the team of the first Qatari women to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in October last year, Al-Naama said she tries to lead an active life.
However, before her marathon training began, she had never run more than a few kilometers at once.
“But after it was suggested to me, I just thought ‘why not’. That’s my strategy with all things – just give them a go,” she told Doha News.
Al-Naama said she started her training in Aspire, alternating jogging and walking for 4km, and then building it to 8km some two weeks ago:
“I got that far, and just thought that I can’t go on. I started thinking that maybe I would just do a 10km run instead of the half-marathon.
Then, on New Year’s Eve I decided that I had given myself enough excuses and that I had to try to do the half-marathon. I made up my mind to change my strategy, go out the next day and jog and jog without checking how far I had gone or what time it was,” she said.
Her Jan. 1 session saw her complete 15km in two hours, which has encouraged her to try for the half-marathon.
She will run as part of a group of friends and relatives who also went on the Kilimanjaro climb with her, including her cousin Mohammed Al-Naama, Mohammed Fakhro and Maryam Al Thani. Her sister Maqdeem Al-Naama will take part in the 10km event.
Al-Naama, who admitted being a driven and competitive person, said that taking part in her first challenges this year gave her the motivation to try to achieve even more:
“There are some difficult times, when you feel exhausted, although a lot of it is mental as well as physical. At that point, I just think if I give up, how I would be disappointed with myself. I have learned that if you put something in your mind and focus on it, you can achieve it.
Nothing is impossible. It just needs dedication and patience.”
She said that she hopes her experience as a “non-runner” would inspire others, particularly young, Qatari women, to get active and give new sports a go.
“Get a friend to train with and just start slowly. There is nothing that can stop you,” she added.
Do you plan to partake in the marathon, or cheer on runners? Thoughts?