The stage is now set for the Middle East region’s first ever ultra-trail running event with the start of the inaugural OMAN by UTMB® just one month away.
With final preparations to the 137km course now complete, a cast of 455 registered local, regional and international runners are set to cross the spectacular non-stop challenge start line on Thursday, 29 November.
Specifically designed to take the ultra-trail athletes through some of the Sultanate’s most dramatic and remote mountain landscapes, the course follows traditional tracks and new built sections with no less than 100kms of the course having been improved in preparation for the ground-breaking event.
Care has been taken to prepare and signpost the route to provide a long-term legacy for both local communities and adventure sports tourists, a key objective for Oman Sail who are hosting the challenge with the support of UTMB® International and the organisers of UTMB® Mont-Blanc.
With entries exceeding expectations, OMAN by UTMB® has attracted leading members of the international ultra-trail community – representing more than 50 countries – to an adventure described by UTMB Mont-Blanc Race Director Michel Poletti as “a must-do event”.
“We are delighted that so many international ultra-trail runners have seized the opportunity to come and see what OMAN by UTMB® and our beautiful country has to offer,” said Oman Sail Chief Marketing Officer, Salma Al Hashmi.
“The course is the match of anything to be found on the UTMB® calendar and we believe that Oman’s striking beauty will speak for itself when the event gets underway. We also hope that the runners and their families and friends will make the most of their time in Oman to explore the Sultanate’s authentic culture and experience the warm welcome for which we are renowned.”
High-profile runners taking part include five who have taken on the role of event ambassadors. The most recent addition to this select group is Samantha Chan, who came third in the 2018 Gaoligong by UTMB 125km race in China, and is the best known female runner in Hong Kong.
She joins the 2016 Ultra Trail World Tour champion Gediminas Grinius, Diego ‘Zpeedy’ Pazos, the extrovert Swiss athlete also known as the ‘bow tie trail runner’, filmmaker Jason Schlarb, the top American finisher in the 2014 UTMB Mont Blanc, and Meredith Edwards, one of the leading and most popular female runners on the circuit.
Along with the rest of the impressive field they have been attracted by the natural beauty of Oman’s interior, alongside the prospect of tackling the 137km route which features long and technical climbs and a total vertical gain of more than 7,800m.
Starting in the historic town of Birkat Al Mawz, OMAN by UTMB® takes in the 2,200m heights of Jebel Akhdar, the Green Mountain, with wadis, ridges, ancient villages and desert landscapes providing an immersive experience in a unique Arabian environment.
The leading runners are expected to complete the course in around 20 hours, having experienced temperatures ranging from 25°C at low level to 10°C in the mountains, possibly much colder at night.
Those taking part in OMAN by UTMB® will enjoy preferential access to the heavily-oversubscribed UTMB® Mont-Blanc, the pioneering forerunner of the whole ultra-trail experience which has now grown to global prominence.
OMAN by UTMB® starts at Birkat Al Mawz, near Nizwa, at 19:30 on Thursday, 29 November.