Another RAK half weekend – 13-14 February 2015

For the second year in a row I ran in the world’s fastest half marathon. The “in” is important here. The RAK half marathon claims this title I think based on the top ten finishing times being faster than any other.

Dennis Kimetto – the holder of the world record for the marathon, started the event after saying something in Swahili. The adjudicator had a bit of a pause and shared that he probably said best of luck to everyone. Truth be told, he could have said just about anything. I had a wry smile thinking he might have said “running’s for losers, get a life.”

I happily started out slow. After around a kilometre I heard the loud barking of a dog coming from somewhere behind me. I figured one of the spectators must have brought their dog and thought little of it. A little later I heard the loud barking again quite close to me, is there a dog running the RAK half? I turned around and it was a runner, cupping his hands over his mouth, and letting out this loud woof. A few minutes later, “woof woof woof!” Ah, I figured it out. He barks at every kilometre marker. My neighbors had a bit of a giggle and probably ran a little more comfortably, knowing there wasn’t a big dog to worry about chasing us. Although getting chased by an actual dog could probably help with posting a great time.

I always run with my iPhone on my arm. It allows me track my progress and record my pace, not to mention receive the odd random call at an inopportune time. It also allows me to listen to music, when it decides to work. I admit having a device on my arm is a slight inconvenience. I won’t complain again though after seeing the guy I passed with what looked like the Samsung equivalent of an iPad mini strapped to his arm. I even thought it looked like he was running slightly lopsided. But if you do want to stop to read a book or watch a movie, he’d have the last laugh.

And I saw the perfect running shirt. It was a standard-looking t-shirt with a picture of Captain America’s shield on the back – set at the height as if he had it stowed there – ready for action – like Steve Rogers himself.

Once again it was a perfectly planned and executed running event. I’m talking about the organisers, not my running. At least I took things relatively easy and was able to enjoy it to the end.

We stayed up at RAK again this year. It gives us a head start in the morning and allows us to enjoy the evening in a different scene and climate – the northern emirates are renowned for being cooler. My brother and his family had come over to stay with us, so it was doubly good reason to stay. We loved the place we stayed at last year so I quickly searched for Al Hamra, golf, beach which was in the title and made the booking. It was only when we went to check in that I realised I’d stuffed up. There are two or more different hotels with similar names. We had stayed at the (Hilton) Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort. I now had a booking for two rooms at the Al Hamra Village & Golf Resort. Close enough wasn’t close enough, but it was quite nearby – and clearly a common mistake. Our actual place was nice enough with lovely views over the golf course. But when we looked outside there was a cat sitting on our patio furniture. I wondered if I had made another error, I had thought I had asked for a “cot”.

The hotel had a buffet breakfast that we just made it home in time for. And there was a pool. And in the evening we ate in the bar and the boys – especially the youngest ones – loved dancing to the band. So all in all, it ticked all the boxes.

The next day we had the obligatory expat stop in Barracuda to restock our adult beverages. Then we left onwards to home, til 12 February 2016 when we look forward to doing it all again. The hotel we need, “Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort”.