Organisers during the announcement of the race. Dubai will host the world’s longest desert ultra-run at Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve from December 11-15. Image Credit: Courtesy: DSC

Dubai: Organisers are expecting nearly 400 athletes to confirm as Dubai looks to make endurance history when it hosts the world’s longest desert ultra-marathon in the spectacular Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve in December.

To be held under the auspices of Dubai Sports Council (DSC) from December 11-15, the Al Marmoom Ultramarathon will be the ultimate measure of athletic endurance, testing physical strength and mental stamina as runners tackle 270km of desert landscape in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. The total prize value is $80,000 (Dh292,000) in cash, trophies and medals, making it the biggest purse in the world for an ultra-marathon event.

“Some of the elite ultra-marathon athletes from across the world have shown an interest in our race simply because this will be the ultimate test of physical strength and stamina. We can easily hope for at least 50 of them to be part of this race in its inaugural year,” event director Ruth Dickinson told media at the announcement on Tuesday.

The event will offer a choice of three distances — the world’s longest desert ultra-run of 270km that will take place across five days, alongside 100km and 50km ultra runs. There will be a specially-built base camp beside the lakes in Al Marmoom including tents, medical assistance, water and basic refreshments. The routes for all three distances will include regular checkpoints where there will be water, time keeping, medical and race crew.

“On one hand, the race will test the endurance of the athletes, but on the other hand this environment-friendly event will showcase the fascinating beauty of Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve across five days of intense action,” Ghazi Al Madani from the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) said.

Runners will be kept on track by the latest tracking technology supplied by SamTech Middle East. Personal devices will provide live tracking of each runner as well as timing technology. They will also provide a ‘panic’ button that will alert emergency services in case of a medical issue and where the runner can be located. This technology will also provide continuous tracking and timing for the race organisers, media and spectators and will be available to view on a variety of mediums, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, social and mainstream media.

Also attending the announcement was elite ultra-runner Jeanette Mertz and the UAE’s Dr Khalid Al Suwaidi. “It’s such a prestigious event, a unique opportunity to explore the unspoilt spectacular desert reserve home to the Arabian Oryx, sandfoxes and mountain gazelles,” she said.

Al Suwaidi, who earlier this year completed the 327-km ‘Rahma Run’ from Fujairah to Abu Dhabi, was enthusiastic about the event. “As an Emirati ultra-marathon athlete, I truly believe that the beautiful landscape we have in the UAE is an ultra-marathon runner’s paradise. We are blessed to be able to run in all types of terrain and hosting the world’s longest desert ultra-run here in the UAE shows that the respective authorities are willing and capable of hosting such events and many more in the upcoming years,” he noted.

Registrations are open and can be done online: http://www.ultramarathon.ae/registration.html and further information may be obtained from the event director: info@ultramarathon.ae.