THE OASIS

Day 1, 21km

The first stage is only 21 km but is the acclamation to the race, so even if is not particularly hard, it is very challenging for most runners. On day one the backpack is at its maximum weight, many runners just arrived in Oman and they are not used to this climate. The start is next to the big fort and the castle and the course takes the runners through the oasis and  towards the desert. The first 10 kilometers of this stage are on flat and compact sand, but then the runners have to enter deep into desert and face high dunes and a big climb, this section of 8 kilometers it had very challenging ground. After this part they descended the dunes and reach the Al Wasil castle where a local crowd will welcome them at the finish line.

RUNNING ON THE CREST

Day 2, 25 km 

The start line of the second stage is just next to a very high dune, and the basecamp faces it, reminding all the time to the participants what they will face the next day. The start time IS at 6.30 AM, just a few minutes after the sunrise. The mild temperature helps the runners to climb this high dune and the course followed its crest for about 4 kilometers, this section is a continuous up and down of small soft dunes.

THE RISING ACTION

Day 3, 2)km

“This stage will make the difference, not only for the top runners but also for the rest of the group” – explains Ahmed Al Malki, the Oman Desert Marathon Race Director. That’s because this section is one of  the hardest stages of the race: now the runners are in the middle of the desert, far away from ant sign of human presence and surrounded by virgin sands and untouched nature. The 29 km of the third stage are characterized by a fast start of 2 km and then 3 difficult sections of soft dunes, with in between little sections faster and easier ground. The first checkpoint and refreshment is located at km 10,5 , just after a high dune and on an immense plateau. The horizon at the end of the plateau marks the beginning of the second challenging section and at the end of it, at km 20 there is another checkpoint and refreshment located just on the top of the dune.

THE VIRGIN SANDS

Day 4, 28 km 

“The previous stages headed south, now we start moving east towards the Arabian Sea, this change of direction will take us to a different landscape: smaller dunes with small spots of green grass and more compact sand”” – explains Ahmed Al Malki, the Oman Desert Marathon Race Director. Stage four has 3 refreshment points and two checkpoints: water at kilometer five and checkpoints with water at kilometer 12 and 22.
We are now at the fourth day of self sufficiency: the runners that decided to carry less food and did not eat much, are now losing energy and for them the race is getting harder and harder, even if this stage is easier than the previous one.
During this stage many runners are also getting tired mentally: this kind of race puts all the runners on an immense mental stress.

THE NIGHT MARATHON STAGE

Day 5, 42,195 km

The Marathon stage is the longest stage of all the race, with 42,195 km takes the runners to the last camp before the end of the race, the start hour is at 15.00 for the most of the runners, just the first 20 will be allowed to start at 17.00.

Even if this stage is almost at the end of the Oman Desert Marathon and is the longest,  runners will enjoy it and find it less difficult than the second and the third one.  Running in the desert at night is something magic, the fresh air and the total absence of human activity makes the sky very bright and transmits the incredible energy of this landscapes. The course is smooth, and after the first 15 kilometers of soft sand the ground becomes very compact and easy to run, following a desert path along the some vegetation. Runners will pass by a Bedouin house and see their camels and goats while feeding with the desert grass and bushes. This will be the first sign of human presence after 3 stages of uncontaminated desert. The sun will go down down at about 6 PM and the temperature will drop down: this conditions made the last kilometers relatively fast also for the slowest runners.
All the course is marked by led lights one in sight of the other: getting lost was almost impossible. If this happens the cars of the organization that are monitoring constantly the runners will see the fluorescent stick attached to everybody backpack, in order to make all runners visible from far.

THE WHITE ARABIAN SEA SANDS

Day 6, 20 km 

All runners will wake up a little bit later and have some more time to sleep after the night stage. Race will start at 9. This stage has just one refreshment point at km 10,5 and the course is easy and smooth as the Marathon Stage, for the first 12 kilometers. A desert road crossing, small dunes, bushes and some vegetation characterize most of the first part of the race. After the refreshment point the scenery starts to change gradually and the competitors have to climb two big dunes of soft sand. The sand here, approaching to the sea, is getting whiter than in the rest of the course. If gold and red are the two dominating colors for most of the race, in the last stage the sand gets whiter and lighter. This 10 km section represents the last big effort  before the finish line and the end of the self sufficiency period: a good meal and cold drinks will wait all the runners at the end of the race.