The document title ‘let’s the cat out of the bag’, so to speak. So how does it transpire that one ends up doing a 5 (Elise) and a 10 kilometre (Elbert) race on the Dubai Autodrome circuit . Well, concern on being able to not sacrifice too many kilometres (1000 KM Challenge related) whilst visiting our eldest son (Hannes-Ras), his wife (Arina) and first granddaughter (Sofia-Mejé), was a splendid reason. The Dubai visit was planned for 7 – 23 March 2019. This would also be the first occasion on which Elise and I would be flying together internationally. Yip, so we did some ‘ground breaking’ firsts here. :-)
Hannes-Ras had sent us a number of race options in and around Dubai. First option was in Hatta (21.1, 10, 5 and 2.5) on 8 March, 134 km from Dubai, roughly an hour and a half drive away.
The HATTA HILLS RUN 2019 offers spectacular scenery for the 21.1km Half Marathon, 10km and 5km runners as the route takes you through palm treed villages, up to the beautiful blue waters of Hatta Dam and Reservoir flanked by the majestic Hajar Mountains as your backdrop…with a few leg sapping up and down hills along the way! For the 2.5km runners, a X-Country course has been prepared within the beautiful and hilly grounds of the Hotel.
After reading the flyer/pamphlet, the fact that the race would commence just hours after our arrival in Dubai, we decided to give this a miss, based on the possibility of ‘jet lag’ having an influence on our energy levels. Just as well, those mountains looked rather daunting. In retrospect, we had made a wise decision.
Sifting further through the other race options, we settled on the ‘Run The Track’ (5.39-kilometre Grand Prix Circuit ), which took place on 16 March 2019, Dubai Motor City, where the Dubai Autodrome (International Circuit) is situated. A mere 10 minutes (7 km) drive away from Remraam (domicile of eldest son). Thus ideally located, plus an opportunity to have a F1 driver’s point of view of the stands (as opposed to a spectator’s view) thrown in as a bonus. :-)
Time on the flyer given as ‘From 06:15’ (it was still quite dark on arrival, despite a 05:11 ‘sunrise’), which then later turned out to encompass ‘registration time’, as the actual start was at 06:30. Ambient temperature felt rather chilly at 17 degrees Celsius, accompanied by a 9 km/h draft and an intermittent flare-up of nearly imperceptible bouts of rain. We were well prepared for the cold and rain, ponchos in hand. Prior to the start, the clouds started dissipating, allowing the sun to peek through and lighten up the sky.
One felt a thrill of excitement and anticipation, as one came into motion from the starting line, which was smack on top of the ‘starting grid’.
Tail end of participants, waiting for the start.
Elise setting her stop watch to zero, prior to the start. Hannes-Ras on her right giving moral support, weathering the cold, note the fluttering flag .
Acceleration after the first sharp right hand bend (out of the main straight), on the apex of another sweeping curve…..
Steady now, 50 meters to the left sweep, gradually applying brakes, careful not to brush off too much speed……….
Immediately followed by a tight right hander…………….
Right hander safely negotiated, shifting up in gears, a slight planned drift towards the centre of the track to line up for the back straight………….
A burst of speed as the revs climb on the back straight…………
The sun started to peep through the clouds………………
Here one followed the first set of cones which were placed to reduce the lap of the 5,39 km circuit down to the more manageable 5.00 km required.
These cones disallowed one from making use of the pit lane. Oh, well, we probably did not need it after only one or two laps…………… :-)
Race number 501 bursting through on the Finishing lane ………………..
Race number 3 eventually closing in on the Finish line after 10 km.
And then, then……………………… something unforeseen and unexpected transpired…………………
Before I continue, I need to share a few other observations:
1) The entry fee is a ‘flat rate’ for the 5 and 10 km distances and quite high. Nowhere near what we pay here. If I should mention the amount (dirhams converted to South African Rands), readers would think I had entered the Comrades for 2019.
2) Everyone sticks around until the last person finishes. Hmmm, I was taking photos as I was circling around the track and finished stone last. Ok, I was not more than 200 meters from the last bundle of 10 kay finishers. So, the crowd did not have to wait that long.
3) The prize giving only starts after the last person finishes. So all that cheering support when I arrived was most appreciated. Very nice of them! :-)
(Side bar and note to self: They were very happy to know that ‘prize giving’ would proceed shortly.)
4) These folks are serious about their running. They need to be, when one considers the cost.
5) Prize giving for all distances have various age categories. One of which is 5 km, Women 60+.
Ok, so then during prize giving I was introduced to an ‘International athlete’, which I (to my surprise) was well acquainted with. Ok, granted, it did take us several seconds to figure out which name had been announced (due to the, for us, unfamiliar/foreign accent): ‘Five kielooeemieters, aigi caaatigoerie, sieeeeekstie plasi…………………Alis Lȏbsir!’
Hannes-Ras Loubser: ‘Maaa, dis ma, ma kry ‘n prys!!!’
The penny dropped and a stunned ‘Elise Loubser’ received this huge trophy.
Not just a plastic ‘beker’ coated with silver , oh no, it actually has a solid marble base and the cup is solid metal. It bears a printed sticker under the base which says: ‘Made in Italy’. Eccelente!
‘But………………. there is more, if you order this article within the next hour, you qualify for a further surprise’:
Imagine that accent again (which by now, one’s ears had become accustomed to: ‘In second place for the age category 60+ for the 10 km race, Elbert Loubser!’ Mama Mia! Eccellente! (a second time)
What a bonus, over and above of what we have already experienced in Dubai!
Such ended the morning excursion on 16 March 2019.
Thank you Hannes-Ras, Arina and Sofia-Mejé for an unforgettable visit to Dubai (UAE)!
PS: Understandably, due to logistics, the Agapé gazebo’s and chairs were sorely missed. :-( and :-)