Al Adaid running tips
To help you to have the best Al Adaid experience, we have gathered advice from local athletes from Doha Bay Running Club: Stephan Vogel, a veteran of the Maraton des Sables; Mehdi Mersni, an elite XTERRA off-road triathlete; and Caroline Drew, 2018 women’s champion.
“If you can do a half marathon, you can do the Al Adaid Challenge”
Just go a bit slower and don’t kill yourself up the sand dunes. Stick to your desired overall pace using perceived effort or heart rate and don’t expect that you can run off-road at the same pace as on road! Taking on the dunes gently and carefully saves you a lot of energy. Trying to battle through will not result in a significant time gain but will definitely wear the legs out early. It’s not soft sand all the way, some sections are hard, flat and fast so that’s where you make ground, once you hit a dune or a soft sand section, adapt your stride and be patient.
Shoes & Equipment
I use trail running shoes but I don’t think that they are necessary for this course. Maybe they help a bit up the sand dunes. If you have gaiters, use them. Regular gaiters will not keep sand out of your shoes, only the special desert gaiters will do that, but they will help nonetheless. You just may have to empty your shoes after coming down a sand dune. Running shoes with an open mesh upper will take in more sand than close-mesh shoes.
Train as you would train for a half marathon but add in some slightly longer long runs. If you can go to Sealine to go up and down the dunes, that’s perfect but it’s not necessary. I trained for Marathon des Sables without ever going to the sand dunes but doing hill repeats on steep hills will be useful, as steep up and downhill running/hiking activates different muscles. An alternative in this flat country is to do stair repeats.
Hydration is a key factor so make sure that you are drinking often. It can be part of your training to ensure that you are topping up regularly. You’ll also need to eat. This is very personal: I don’t like gels and I usually take some cashew nuts, dried banana slices, or granola bar. Again, practicing eating on your long runs – for a slower runner like me, anything can be difficult to stomach after three hours but experience does help.
Protect yourself from the sun
Even if you are a Qatar resident, the effect of the sun can really take a toll on you physically. Use a sports sunscreen and cap. The cap can also keep the sun out of your eyes, or wear sunglasses if you are able to run with them.
“It’s really worthwhile participating in the Al Adaid Challenge. A nice event, well organized, and good vibe among the participants.” – Stephan Vogel
“Enjoy every kilometre of an unforgettable race! I wish I was running with you all! Good luck.” – Caroline Drew