Cool weather, sandy beaches, fast course make the 2018 RAK Half Marathon a strong success


Success in many endeavors is a difference of perspectives.

FinishArea1-RAK18.JPG2018 RAK finish line, 9 February 2018, photo by

For Tim Hutchings, one of the pre eminent meet emcees and TV announcers, getting all of the names right at a presser, and cajoling the elite athletes to speak more than their name and how they enjoy the area are good. When Tim Hutching has Augustine Choge speaking about his long career, and his fitness (not as good as 2017), I thought, in American baseball parlance, Tim Hutchings hit it out of the proverbial baseball park!

For Nathan Clayton, the race director of the RAK Half Marathon, that runners finished well, liked the experience, and the sponsors were happy was a sign of success. Deep performances once again made the 12th race, one of the sixty events hosted by Premier Sports, a resounding success. Of course, Nathan can see things he can improve on, but that is the hell of a race director. A bit of an obsession with details is a needed trait.

For Rami Turk, Nathan's partner in Premier Sports, it was a fine day when the timing worked, the wifi worked for the American media group @runblogrun, and the weather was near perfect. A good turn out at the finish line, that the food was on time, coffee hot and milk cold, are all the things that are part of the proverbial Dante's inferno of things that can go wrong in race manager's hell.

But, seriously, the race was, from this first time viewer, fantastic. Here's why:

Chemutai_FancyLeds-RAK18.JPGFancy Chemutai leads the way, photo by Victah Sailer/

1. The women's race was near perfection. Mary Keitany proved that she is ready to give the London Marathon in April her very all. She stayed off the lead, but kept close enough to stay in control. Fancy Chemutai was fantastic. 15:15 for 5k, 30:34 for 10k, 46:08 for 15k, and 61:35 for the 20k. Joceyline Jepkosgei dropped back at 50 minutes, and Caroline Kipkirui did not falter until just after 20k. So, it was Mary Keitany and Fancy Chemutia dueling, a race directors' dream. My only wish was, that, around 20k, the pacers would have dropped out or moved away. While they went at lengths to do their jobs, they were in the way near the last kilometer. Fancy and Mary dueled and no one else, to them was there only two people there, Mary and Fancy. Fancy's move at end was tentative, she could have broke the record, and did not know if Mary had another move. Also a pretty good day for brand, adidas, with the top three women in the proverbial three stripes brand.

DSC_1539.jpgBedan Karoki, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

2. Men's race was full of surprises, and the defender won! Bedan Karoki had a huge bulls eye on his back. The 2017 champion is a tough runner, from cross country to track to the roads. Karoki told the media that he was ready to race and hoped to set a PB. That, in Kenyan under speak, is nearly bragging. I could not tell with Augustine Choge, and I was watching for Jorum Lumbasi Okumbu, who had run 58:28 in the past and was, maybe 21. The race was solid pace, from 13:53 for 5k, to 27:48 for 10k to 41:43 for 15k, the pace from 5k to 15k was near perfect, at 13:56 per 5k, or a 27:52 10k. The last 5k slowed a bit, but Bedan Karoki slowed down the least, and his was the victory, in 58:42. Jamal Yimer, from Ethiopia, was one of two Ethiopians in the top 20, and ran a WR for debut Half Marathon, of 59:00 and was our most popular Instagram photo of the day!

MenStart-RAK18.JPGThe elite men's race is off! photo by Victah Sailer/

3. Lesson to know: the level of competition among top men and woman in this race is something fierce. We see only the top Kenyans or Ethiopians in the US. Over here, some of the athletes who want to break out come in for their time to show their stuff. The pack in the men's race, at the beginning was nearly 20, and then, it was 13, then six, then, four, then one. The women's race was much the same. The more veteran athletes, those who understand their training and their racing, move to the top of the food chain, and we see around the world. Seeing the level of quality of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners in UAE has been eye opening.

WomenStart-RAK18.JPGThe elite women's start, cool, a bit of fog, photo by Victah Sailer/

4. A fast course, good weather, good prize purse, well run event, they will come. The Premier Sports team puts on a fine race. RAK supports the race, and the sponsorship is here for the long term. The race will give RAK and UAE some time in the global sports news world. All of those are good. For @runblogrun and @theshoeaddicts, we see RAK half marathon as a true destination race, where a real runner, or fitness runner can do their running thing, and their family and friends can cheer on, but actually vacation with all of the opportunities in RAK in February. The race course is fast, and the attention to detail is key.

HRH.jpgHRH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, with Larry Eder, photo by Adam Johnson Eder, for The Shoe Addicts

5. Global message: RAK is about diversity, fun, and a nice break from the ordinary. I was fortunate to interview His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saud Al Qasimi, on why RAK half is so important. His Royal Highness surprised me a bit. He noted that runners from 115 countries are in RAK for the half marathon. He also reminded me that, as we know, my country, the USA is a country of immigrants, much like the country I am visiting. American educated, His Royal Highness spoke about United Arab Emirates, and how they value their relationship with the U.S. And, by implication, RAK would love to see more Americans running here.

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