Over 200 amateur athletes took part in Qatar’s first official ultramarathon, the International 6:50 Race, on Thursday evening. Organized by Aspire Logistics, in collaboration with the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), the grueling 50km race took place on a specially designed circuit at Aspire Zone.
Chris Denison from Shropshire, England, won the race with a time of 4 hours and 26 minutes, Raimey Olthuis was the first woman to complete the course, crossing the finishing line just five minutes after her compatriot.
Speaking after the race, Chris said, “This was my fourth ultramarathon and definitely one of my favorites. The facilities here are just first-class and I’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere here in Doha tonight – there’s a nice family feel to this event. To be honest, I’m quite surprised to have come first but I’m looking forward to showing off my medal to my friends.”
Open to all members of the public, the race attracted a diverse group of runners, with athletes from Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East among those who took part.
Keith Holden, a 51-year-old sourcing manager from the UK, was one of the 34 athletes who completed the full distance. An experienced long-distance runner, he registered for the ultramarathon at the last minute after hearing from a friend that the event was taking place in Doha.
Keith said, “I was actually in Hong Kong yesterday but when I found out that the ultramarathon was taking place at the Aspire Zone, I booked a flight at the last minute. I’m exhausted, obviously, but this event has been so much fun and I think it’s great that Aspire are putting on activities like this. Hopefully we’ll see many more long-distance running events for the public in the future.”
Earlier on Thursday it was announced that the IAU 50km World Trophy, which is made up of a series of qualifier races held throughout the year, is scheduled to come to Qatar for the very first time in October. This event will also be held at Aspire Zone.
Nadeem Khan, Director of Communications of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), said, “It is an absolute pleasure to be in Doha for the first-ever ultramarathon. The Aspire Zone facilities are outstanding, and we are looking forward to work with Aspire on longer term partnership opportunities to provide a range of world-class long-distance races to the local international community.”