The announcement of the hosting of OPAL Half Marathon featuring half-marathon, 10km and 2kn fun race was made by the organisers, Excellence Performance, recently.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Rashid al Kindi, founder and executive director of Excellence Performance, said, “We are expecting more than 500 runners in all the three categories at the OPAL Half Marathon. Long-distance running is certainly gaining popularity in Oman and with the weather conditions just ideal during November to February, I expect lot of runners to take part in both the events.”
Kindi, a former international long-distance athlete himself, said that “OPAL is supporting the initiative of Excellence Performance as part of its corporate social responsibility and it believes that sports plays a great role in the development of youth in the sultanate.
“This is our maiden event but we plan to make it an annual affair. We also plan to take it to different regions in Oman.”
Kindi said that the decision to host OPAL Half Marathon in November was with a purpose. “We understand that a lot of runners would be competing in the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon in January.
“Our half marathon will provide the runners a good measure of their preparations and it could help them decide on the distance they would like to opt for in January as there would be nearly ten-week gap between the two races,” said Kindi.
He said that invitations have been sent out to athletics clubs in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and other GCC countries to send their athletes for the half marathon.
“We have received good feedback and we will wait for the registrations to be completed to announce if any big names are coming or not. We have also approached the Oman Athletics Association to field their national long-distance team for the race,” he said.
Free registration for the half marathon can be done at firstname.lastname@example.org from October 25-November 10.
Meanwhile, registrations have already begun for the seventh edition of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon with the organisers expecting thousands to take part in the two-day festival.
The opening day will be dedicated to a kids run (1km, 2.5km, 4km) while marathon, half marathon and 10km race along with a charity 5km fun run and a marathon relay, open to teams of four to six runners, who will each run part of the full marathon course, will be held the next day.
The Muscat Marathon is organised jointly by Oman Sail and Muscat Road Runners with the continued support of title sponsor Al Mouj Muscat.
The race received a boost this year from Tanfeedh, the government’s economic diversification project, which has embraced the fast-growing sports tourism sector as one of its key initiatives as Muscat Marathon aims to further its mission to drive inbound tourism.
In 2017, the marathon saw 1,290 participants of which there were 246 Omani runners.
Kindi's Excellence Performance was also instrumental in organising the Al Amerat Challenge Race that was held for three successive years till last year.
The unique 9km road race was the only race in the sultanate to gain international recognition from the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) in 2015.
However, the 2017 edition was cancelled as the organisers failed to get the green signal from Royal Oman Police due to “traffic congestion.”
Kindi said that they are in talks with ROP to get the required permission for Al Amerat Challenge and are hopeful of getting the clearance to host the road race next year.