Padraig’s first Ultra Marathon – Wadi Bih Solo 72, Feb 2016

Foundation for this event emerged with an email sent to former Club Chairperson Chris Denison, currently based in Abu Dhabi.

Arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening. A gently 6km run the following morning to the beach and back kicked off the day. Departed for the coastal village of Dibba, Oman at lunch time.

The 3 hour drive took us to the border crossing checkpoint, where our visa’s were awaiting. The rising mountains were a daunting sight and the reality of the challenge suddenly dawned. We took the short trip across the border to the Golden Tulip Hotel. We set up camp site on a quiet part of the beach. We met up with fellow RRR Pierre and Claudine. After collecting race packs we had an evening meal, before getting our things ready. The alarm clocks set for 3:30am.

DSC00663-compressorRace Start duly followed at 4:30am, off we went running under the guidance of head torches. First section on tarmac was relatively flat, and then came the first climb. Stayed with a group of 5,to avoid being isolated. The tarmac turned to a gravel trail on 6km’s with a steady gradient. Daylight arrived 2 hours later at that stage we were into the groove and thoughts on reaching the summit arose. On 19mile we hit the most difficult section, a zigzag road with a 15 degree gradient. No choice but to walk the 2 km section. Met Chris near the summit running in 6th place, a position he went on to maintain. Further hill were greeting us and eventually reached the summit, with another downhill to the “turn around point”. Counting those in front of me was in 20th place overall.DSC00657-compressor

With little appetite to eat much, a handful of jelly beans and camera were taken from the “my drop off bag”. Climbing back to the summit and meeting Claudine/ Pierre at this stage, the adventure continued. The decent took in the scenery and the sense of how far we had actually climbed 1200metres in total.

Freewheeling downwards, I soon caught up with a front runner, leaving him for dust. On it went, taking the all essential photographs, soon was over the 42km mark. With the thoughts of another 30km to go, the ability to relax and pace myself was essential. The valley was part shaded, part sunshine. Reaching the food station with 25km to go, I was told I held 11th place. Inspired I galloped on setting a target to complete with a sub 7:30. As I reached the bottom section, the shade turned to full exposure to the unforgiving sunshine. On reaching the tarmac, the last big hill appeared. Getting across and getting over the line with a sense of relief, completely exhausted, having put myself through the mill. Clock showed 7:27:01, and 11th overall. A delighted Chris congratulated me, himself have completed in a respectable 7:06.

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Coca Cola and water was served as I lay on the shaded grass surface. A sense of dizziness was felt; the 40 minute rest was much needed. After some much needed food, greeting Claudine and Pierre crossing the line.

Glad to have taken on the challenge as a maiden ultra run. It will bring treasured memories from my current stay in the middle east.
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