Run 11 : Oman – the desert

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Date : 20th January, 2014

Time :  50’43” (two minutes slower than Dubai the day before)

Total Distance Run to date : 110 km

Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/439933855

When I sit there in London planning my travels with Luke ‘The Ever Patient Travel Agent’, we like the look of borders that are close to places I’m flying to. In theory they mean I can do the bordering country quickly and cheaply by land transfer. And saving time and money are very high on the list of priorities when you’re travelling to 204 countries.

However, it’s not always as easy as it looks. For example, we planned a tour of the ‘Stans’ that involved me flying to Tashkent in Uzbekistan and doing the 3 bordering countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan – by land transfer. Or at least that was the plan until I got home and discovered that the borders were frequently mined and subject to military flare ups and arbitrary closures.

And, as anyone who has read my Slovakian blog will know, it’s not always easy to find the way to get to the nearest border.

Anyway, in the exceedingly unlikely event that you’re in Dubai and want to run at the nearest spot in Oman, then the way to do it is to catch the E16 bus from Sabkha Bus Station to Hatta. Hatta itself is in Dubai but the route goes through part of Oman and you can get off at the border for your run.

One of the consequences of these ad hoc land transfers is that you can’t organise to run with anyone. Basically you’re on your own, just over a border in the middle of nowhere.

Except Oman had organised a special welcoming committee for me. I got off the bus on the Oman side of the border and crossed the road to photograph two bunches of camels that were greeting each other through the border fence.

I took a couple of shots and then realised I’d missed a call from Liz so called her back to discuss a couple of PR issues. Two minutes into the conversation I looked up to see both groups of camels heading my way – one hungry looking camel unfurling an unfeasibly long tongue in my direction.

I abruptly ended the conversation with Liz with the words “Sorry, can’t talk any more. Camels approaching” and set off sharpish on my run.

Have I got any footage of this oh so dramatic encounter? Of course not but I have added an earlier picture of some of the camels in question. Don’t be misled by their peaceful appearance – these were man-eaters.

The run itself was pretty nondescript and pretty tough after my jaunt with the Dubai Road Runners the night before. 5 km into Oman through the desert and along the side of a major road in the early afternoon sun and then 5 km back.

Kilometers 7, 8 and 9 are always the worst parts of these runs and on this day they were particularly unpleasant. At the end of it I caught sight of myself in a mirror. I looked gaunt, tired and sweaty – exactly how I felt.

Probably the best bit of the whole journey was the view of Dubai on the way back as we approached from the south. From a distance you can see the whole strip of high rises along the Dubai coast. Colossal in scale and straight out of a sci-fi movie set.

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About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/ - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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