The Aspire Zone Foundation broke records during the final leg of its third annual Aquathon on Saturday, when 600 people from across Qatar took part in the swimming and running race.
Beginning the 2013-2014 Aquathon season with an average of 350 participants, the Aspire event has proven ever more popular, with the number of competitors almost doubling by the end of the five-month race period.
“The turnout of 600 participants at the final race of Aspire’s third annual Aquathon is testament to its increasing popularity among Qatar’s society,” said Hamad Al Kubaisi, Senior Public Relations and Events Officer at Aspire Logistics. “At the inaugural Aquathon in 2011-2012, we saw just 50 people partake, and so this exponential growth illustrates just how much Aspire has succeeded at engaging the entire community in sports,” he added.
For Hager Doulch, mother of 10-year-old Doaa, waking up at 4am to travel to the Aspire Dome from Dukhan, 60km from Doha, is a rather unusual family outing. However, news of the Aspire Aquathon, having travelled by word-of-mouth to Dukhan, saw Hager and Doaa make the early morning journey to Aspire Zone.
“We heard about this event through the community and Doaa has now competed in three of the five races this year, and her enthusiasm has grown with each race, as her confidence builds and she tries to beat her own time,” said the Tunisian teacher at the Dukhan English School. “This Aspire event is truly a great opportunity for children to have fun while getting fit.”
Doaa’s dedication to the Aquathon has even inspired her mother to get fit. “I’m now embarrassed that I’m not as fit as I should be and Doaa has inspired me to do something about that. She’s always on my case about exercising and eating right – she’s even laid out a diet plan for me and stuck it on the fridge at home,” added Hager.
The Aquathon also provides a first-rate training regime for older athletes who compete in events around the region. “I recently competed in one of the region’s biggest triathlons in Abu Dhabi and realized that the comparatively shorter distances at local competitions, such as the Aspire Aquathon, fit in perfectly with my training for longer distances,” said 32-year-old Pierre Daniel from France. “It’s also clearly a family affair and successfully shows the whole community that sport is for everyone and not just the professionals,” he added.
The Aspire Aquathon has also become a team building exercise for local fitness clubs such as the H2o Swim Club in Doha. “In the club we have a total of 650 swimmers at all levels and 50 of them, children and masters, have officially represented us at the past two Aspire Aquathon events,” said Roberto Oliviera, H2o Swim Club Coach. “We think this Aquathon is a good experience for all of our members because it allows them to compete in something else besides swimming, and this holistic version of athletics is a great opportunity for them to explore,” he added.
Stressing the importance of such an event for the younger swimmers, Oliviera added, “The smaller kids are at a critical stage of life in terms of their aerobic development, and by putting them through this experience of swimming and running, they learn that there are other ways to develop their athletic skills, which essentially raises them to a new level of sporting achievement.”
Organized by Aspire Logistics, The Aquathon series is an annual Aspire Zone event comprising five stages spread across the winter months. Each competition features a swim in the Aspire Dome pool and a run around Aspire Park, and includes races of varying distances for categories comprising juniors aged eight to 15, adults aged 16 to 39, and veterans aged 40 and over.
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