Ironwoman Charlotte Best ran her first ever multi-stage marathon in 2014, and decided to do it in heats of up to 33 degrees celsius across the Oman desert. This is her account of the adventure, and a few tips for those of us thinking of making a multi-stage marathon much, much harder by doing it in a desert.
“I entered before I had the chance to change my mind.”
The Oman Desert Marathon (165km in 6 self-sufficient stages across the Oman Desert) ticked all the boxes; it was local to my part of the world (even better, it was in-country!), it wasn’t extortionately expensive and the daily distances (and time cut-offs) looked very do-able for a first timer at this sort of thing. So I entered before I had a chance to change my mind.
|‘Ready to go’|
|‘Dunes at Sunrise’
“I love this photo. We’d just climbed straight up the steep side of the dunes, up into the sunlight at about 6.30am. I turned around to see who was behind me and saw this awesome scene.”
The group of people running was a really nice bunch, with people from the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Poland, Italy, Syria, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and Taiwan. Most days I’d run with other people for the first 6 or 7km, before settling into my pace; a lot of the times after that I ran on my own. Often in sight of other people, which was reassuring, particularly during the marathon stage, where I ran with (and then tried to keep up with!) my Muscat Road Runners buddy Hamood. There were 36 of us that ran the whole thing, with although only 9 ladies running in total, was more than I had initially expected.
- 2 instant porridge pots for breakfast (around 420kCal total)
- 1 bag of dates, figs, almonds, cashews and walnuts (totally around 250kCal) for mid-run snacking
- 2 For Goodness Shakes choccie recovery shake (275kCal)
- 1 bag of couscous or dehydrated meal for lunch (400-500kCal)
- 1 dehydrated meal pouch for dinner (500-600kCal)
Charlotte’s top tips for running a HOT marathon.
- Try to acclimatise to running in the heat. Whether this is a hot holiday somewhere in the months prior to the race, a heat chamber, sweat runs with loads of layers, or arriving in-country early for the race. Being used to the weather gave me a massive advantage over some other people.
- Don’t try anything new on race day! (An oldie but a goodie.) Hot weather exacerbates any rubbing from new clothes or shoes, new foods not settling well in tummies etc. and the key is to keep as comfortable as possible in every aspect that you can control. You probably won’t be comfortable in the heat, but you can’t control the heat!
- Wear the right kit. Lightweight shorts and t-shirts that wick well and don’t rub when wet. A good hat (with neck flap if you have short hair), a decent pair of gaiters (that you’ve tested in sand!), and a good rucksack that is comfy when your clothes underneath it are soaked with sweat.
Read more about the Oman Desert Marathon on the event website