Sand is never… “just sand”!

What is the worst enemy when running a desert race?

Running for 165 kilometers is a challenge, running for 165 kilometers in the desert is even a bigger challenge. The desert, however, is never “just sand”. Most of the deserts have different types of ground: soft sand, compact sand, rocks and alluvial plateaus. The high dunes we see in many race pictures usually are just one of the may scenarios runners will face crossing a desert. This variety of ground is a key aspect when choosing a race: soft and high dunes are very challenging, flat and compact plateaus are the perfect ground where to run fast.

What is the best desert where to run? This question has no answer, as each runner has his or her own preferences and abilities. Fastest and lightest runners find easier and more comfortable on a compact ground where to speed up and finish the race fast,  slower runners might prefer soils were to alternate running and walking.

Only one key element is valid for all runners categories and should always be considered with attention when choosing a race: be sure that you will find variety of landscapes and grounds.

The worst enemy is monotony. Sometimes we are attracted by a single landmark or by a spectacular picture, and the all race is promoted on a single characteristic. Yes, a stone carved by the wind can look spectacular, a view can be breathtaking, but the rest of the course? Will you enjoy to run dozens of miles to see a single spot, tired and starving after all that monotony? You might not even be able to enjoy it! When choosing a race, especially in the desert, always be sure to find a course with alternations of sceneries and grounds: even the most beautiful place, if repeated for days and days of running, can become an hell on earth.

One of the strongest plus of the Oman Desert Marathon is the continuous alternation of different types of sands: soft and high dunes, compact sand, areas with vegetation, white and red sands. Starting from the Castle in the Oasis of Bidiyah, in the heart of the desert, to reach the coasts of the Arabian Sea, you will never get bored on the race course. Each stage is different, not only for the type of ground, but also for the climate: the first days the heat is torrid and dry, then you will gradually move towards the Ocean, finding milder temperature but with more humidity. This change of temperature and climate, just in a couple dozens of miles, will also determine a change in the desert vegetation: almost not existent in the first stages, to arrive to green spots heading to the coast.

Sand is never “ just sand” when running in Oman: every step is a discovery, all race stages are different and you will be so intrigued by the panoramas that you will forget the fatigue and you will fall in love with the magic of the Omani Desert. 

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