Al Marmoon Ultra Marathon is arranged in a desert area outside Dubai in the Emirates. The area where the race is organized has sand dunes that are ten meters high and it is difficult to navigate. There are three parallel races where the participants can choose between three distances, which follow the same path - but with different starting times:
270 km, which is the main run, has the following day trips:
- Day 1 = 50 km, day 2 = 70 km, day 3 = 100 km and day 4 = 50 km.
- 100 km starting day 3 and at the same time the participants 270 km.
- 50 km runs the last day with the participants on the main race 270 km.
Good preparation gives you the security and predictability that make it easier to focus on "just running".
Remember you are visiting
What is important when visiting other countries is to understand culture, religion and local laws in the best possible way, and respect this even if it is contrary to your own religion and beliefs. In addition, I map where the Scandinavian embassies are located, and of self-interest and hunger for waffles I use to check if there are any sailors' churches in the country.
Dubai is characterized by many foreign workers and the Western world - but as a visitor it is important to respect the minority who are the "native" local Arabs, who would like to adopt the benefits that come from the Western world, but on the other hand they are strong Muslim religious. Here it can be easy to "tread wrong" and you should not do that many times. If you behave indecently at a private party in Norway, you are followed to the door and chased home. But when you visit the Emirates and behave badly - yes, then you are no longer welcome, are followed to the airport and sent home. Simple - but shocking to some.
Even greater demands put it to you as a participant when sharing a tent for a week with people from Abu Dhabi, Japan, USA, France. You enter the tent with over forty degrees a day - after running stages of five to twenty hours - tired, pain, low blood sugar and limited food.
You've been running a full day of sacking, some mis-navigation, spitting because your stomach doesn't take on the cruel jelly. Too little food / nutrition (2,000 calories per day). Shoes that are full of sand, gnawing or have a bad sole. Shorts with garter stitching. Sacks that are too heavy or do not sit well enough on the back. Sunburned with blisters that burn. Poor sleep due to heat, cold or noise.
Competitor: Nervous competitors who are scarce, talk too much, send "negative" signals, are lonely, reprimand you and turn out to be AbuDabi police. Competitors you see cheating in the race, etc ... Competitors who win - ego, competitors who deserve to "win" the cash prizes. Competitors who struggle, those who do not struggle. For example, there was one with very good running capacity as "ran with umbrella" to protect himself from the sun and after the finish sat outside the tent and took a smoke - most of us laughed, but some were strongly provoked.
Questions from Facebook:
1. Can't write a little about any injuries and prevention.
2. Do you never get hurt in your knees, hips or gait Achilles? What do you possibly do during such races?
4. Does Åssen train you specifically against such a race?
- Prevention for me is strength training with a focus on core muscles a couple of times a week. As strength training is "boring" I distribute the strength training in two days. One day focusing on upper body, one day with legs, then another day with upper body ... Prevention against wear and tear is to vary the "running". Unlike many others who run long distance (ultra-race), I do not focus on getting the most running kilometers in the legs of training. I vary terrain and thrive best on running in the mountains, the woods or in the spring rocks by the sea. In the winter season, I change out running shoes with cross-country skis and train classically for the most part. Cross-country skiing activates all the major muscle groups, is gentle on joints, provides a high calorie consumption and is considered one of the best forms of exercise. Many endurance runners train yoga while climbing in addition to swimming.
- An important element for long-term participation such as this is to distinguish between hurt and injury. Damage to the knees, hips etc. is not good, but being tired and having pain is not good enough excuse to stop.
- In training the last month up to a race, I reduce the content of strength training from 3 to 2 sets and from 10 to 8 repetitions with slightly lighter weights. In addition, I increase the number of running sessions. Then I take it quite calm the last few days before departure.
- With good preparations, mapping of geographical location is:
- what temperatures, weather conditions, humidity, terrain, surface, elevation, vegetation, villages we pass etc.
- Get acquainted with culture, religion and local laws, and respect this even if it is contrary to your own religion and beliefs.
- When you are on the starting line you must be immovable by your choice of equipment - don't worry about what others have made of choice.
What was the great uncertainty in this race were the contradictory descriptions from the organizer about "full packing" or "day picking". So I prepared for both options. Furthermore, I consider possible scenarios and risk-reducing measures. I assess the probability and consequence of the individual elements. As an example in advance of this race, I had considered error navigation high up on the list. The measure in advance of the race was then to use extra energy to enter the day stages and control point in min GPS watch. In addition, I had to be comfortable with the mandatory spare unit Garmin eTrax.