Richards and Paajanen earn breakthrough wins
by Richard Slater
The Riyadh Road Runners kicked off their season with a 5km race in hot conditions last Friday afternoon. An excellent turnout of 125 runners showed up despite the temperatures in the mid 40s to enjoy the fun and competitive environment of Riyadh’s largest amateur sports club.
In the men’s race, Sam Richards claimed his first race victory in Riyadh, surging into the lead at the 1km mark and leaving all other participants trailing in his wake. Richards maintained the good form he showed towards the end of the last season, managing to complete the course in an outstanding time of 20:03 despite the mercury showing above 43 degrees.
Behind him, club stalwart Jean-Pierre Berthiaux held off Taleb Alessa to claim second place, showing that his intense summer training has paid dividends. Taleb, from Al Ahsa, paced his race to perfection and made his way through the field on the last lap to clinch the final podium place.
In the ladies’ race, Carolyn Paajanen, newly arrived from Helsinki and racing with the RRR for the first time, proved far too strong for the competition and cruised to victory in an impressive time of 22:09, which also placed in the eighth overall. Behind her was reigning club champion Claudine Roghi, who continued her good form which dates back to 2014. In third place was another first timer, Alanoud Ali, who beat several more experienced athletes and looks to have a lot of potential for the future.
The club would like to thank Carrefour Tala Mall for providing fruit and water for the runners. For full results visit www.riyadhroadrunners.com .
Male race: 1. Sam Richards (UK) 20:03, 2. Jean-Pierre Berthiaux (FRA) 21:27, 3. Taleb Alessa (KSA) 21:31
Female race : 1. Carolyn Paajanen (FIN) 22:09 , 2. Claudine Roghi (FRA/NZ) 24:06 , 3. Alanoud Ali (KSA) 25:23