Forget protestations from Qatar, the Gulf’s best sporting nation is clearly Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
Thought Bahrain was addicted to speed? Confirmation is the slew of running events heading up Bahrain’s packed autumn sporting calendar. The Bahrain Relay Marathon (www.brt1.net) is first up. For those who shy away from any participation event containing the word “marathon”, this is one of the few gigs that even the fanatically unfit can take part in. With marathon’s 42 km divided into 16 roughly 2.6 km segments, the distance is short enough for even obese smokers to pack a punch. With the summer heat now a distant memory (we hope), over 2,000 people will take to the streets on Friday November 20, running, walking and rolling their 2,600 metre relay in teams of 16.
The event kicks off at Bahrain’s International Circuit (in case you needed any inspiration) at 10am. For the past two years, the teams to beat have all come from SAAD Specialist Hospital (their specialism? sprinting), with times averaging under 10 minutes each leg. But evidence that you don’t need to be a doctor to compete comes in the form of a team from Bahrain’s Hash House Harriers, a local fun run group who came a respectable 174th last year, the emphasis in their weekly training sessions being presumably more fun than run. With all the money raised going to charity, it would be positively miserly not to dig those old cycling shorts and invest in a sweat band.
With the team event firmly behind you, it’s time to shrug off the laggards and fling yourself into the solo races. Bahrain’s Cross Island Race might sound like a breeze (from the air it looks barely ten yards), but the 16 km course takes you through the heart of the island’s desert, where competitors will have to negotiate dust, construction debris and the island’s daredevil drivers. Mercifully, the event takes place on December 11th when the temperature will be comparatively freezing and, compared to the stroll to the office in the heat of the summer, will be a walk in the park. Thanks to the training regime you kept up since the relay, however, for you this third of a marathon is more of a sprint.
The real deal, the Bahrain Marathon, is scheduled for February 5th 2010, a good month after New Year’s resolutions have kicked in. With the current men’s record at 2:03:59 (Haile Gebrselassie, Berlin Marathon 2008) and the woman’s a whopping 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, London Marathon 2003), there is everything to play, or rather run, for. Those looking for a spot of training can also sign up for the Bahrain Half Marathon (www.bahrainhm.com), currently scheduled for January 15th 2010. Murray Garrard
Bahrain might seem like a land of car-lovers, but those looking to run will find plenty of company.
The Bahrain Roadrunners, founded over 30 years ago, is one of the most established running organisations in the country (they tend to organise most of the major running events). To find out when they meet, and the race schedule for the coming months, visit www.bahrainroadrunner.com.
Bahrain Hash House Harriers are a global organisation that started in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930s. The group is as much about socialising as it is about running, and those intending only to walk are more than welcome. The group meets on Mondays. For more information, visit www.bahrainhash.com.
Those looking for a training regime for the Bahrain Marathon Relay need look no further than Adnan Al Qassab, the former chairman of the Bahrain Roadrunners. Every Friday from November 11th, under his guidance, training for the 3km race will commence at 4.30pm from the Shiekh Khalifa Causeway Walkway, on the Hidd side. Registration will take place between 3.45 and 4.25. Bring water. For more information, call 39 132 102.