And with just a week left for the start of Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, the organisers, Oman Sail, has declared that a record number of 6,051 entries have been confirmed for the two-day running spectacle that will be held on January 18-19.
But the icing on the cake for the organisers has been the acceptance of Al Mouj Muscat Marathon as an AIMS full member for 2018 on Tuesday by the Greece-based Association of
International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).AIMS is a member-based organisation of more than 400 of the world’s leading distance races, from over 100 countries and territories. It works to foster and promote distance running throughout the world in cooperation with the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).
Buoyed by the AIMS recognition and record entries, the organisers have expressed confidence of turning the forthcoming event a grand success, thanks to a new route, new categories and two days of fun.
In her remarks to Muscat Daily, Salma al Hashmi, Oman Sail's chief marketing officer, said, “The record number of participants speak volumes of the popularity of the marathon. With six categories including a marathon relay, introduced for the first time, we are hopeful that Al Mouj Muscat Marathon will soon establish itself as an international race.
“There has been a sizeable increase in the participation of runners from last year and for the first time, runners in a bid to get record times will be allowed to have pacers in marathon, half-marathon and 10km races.”
It was back in 2012 when a group of runners, named Muscat Road Runners (MRR), decided to host the first Muscat Marathon with just 135 runners. Since then, the marathon has come a long way and from 2017, Oman Sail has taken over to give the event a new direction with competitive running and sports tourism going hand in hand.
Hashmi said, “This is a pilot project for us to contribute to the social and economic development of Oman and it is also a celebration of health and fitness. We intend to make Al Mouj Marathon an important date in Oman's sports tourism calendar.”
Runners who have entered the fray in six categories are from 86 countries and 378 participants are flying in from different parts of the world.
The field is so varied that there is a runner as young as seven year old while a 73 year old woman, Edwige van den Assem, is coming from Dubai to take part. The main marathon features only 233 runners but the rest of the categories have evoked good response.
Another highlight this year has been the entries from 42 schools. The Kids run will start the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon on January 18 and will comprise 1km (seven and eight years), 2.5km (nine and ten years), 4km (11-12 years). A total of 2,372 runners have registered.
There will be cash prizes for the top finishers in marathon with the men and women
winners getting RO 2,000 each. There will also be separate cash awards for the best Omani runners in all categories.
The main action will be on January 19 when full marathon, half-marathon and 10km races will be held. Out of 6,051 entries, 2,281 are women and girls while a total of 3,770 Omanis have entered in various categories.
Corporate teams make up most of entries in the relay event, which will comprise maximum six runners. A total of 380 are in fray with trophies on offer for the winning men's, women's and mixed teams with at least two women runners.
The 5km Charity Fun Run has received 1,097 entires and it offers the participants a chance to support Oman Diabetes Association (ODA).