Ras Al Khaimah: The Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon 2020 will aim to set a lightning pace, hosting a line-up of world-class elite runners for its 14th edition on February 21.
Having smashed Paula Radcliffe’s marathon world record by a staggering 81 seconds last year in Chicago with a time of 2.14:04, the star of the women’s field will be Brigid Kosgei from Kenya. After an incredible 2019 where she won every single race she competed in, including the London Marathon and Great North Run, she will begin her all-important preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Ras Al Khaimah.
Commenting on her participation in the race, Kosgei said: “I am really excited to come back to the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon after two years. My only experience in that race was in 2018 when I came in seventh in 66:49. I know that this year the line-up is one of the best ever for a half marathon and I really hope to run fast.”
Expected to set a quick pace over the 21.1km course, Kosgei will need to see off stiff competition from a stellar field on Marjan Island, including the winner of the recent Comrades Marathon, South African Gerda Steyn.
Steyn kicked off her running journey in the UAE with the Desert Road Runners club and distinguished herself by becoming the first woman to complete the Comrades ultra-marathon in under six hours. She has marked a new personal best of 2.27:48 for the full marathon in New York in 2019, which earned qualification for Tokyo Olympics.
In the men’s race, Kenyan Benard Kimeli, who clinched back-to-back titles at the Prague Half Marathon in 2018 and 2019, and holds a personal best of 59:07, is aiming to take the crown in Ras Al Khaimah and improve on his electric pace. The competition will be fierce as world-beating athletes will join him at the starting line, including Mosinet Geremew — one of only five men to complete a marathon in under two hours and three minutes — and the European record-holder for the half marathon, Julien Wanders of Switzerland, who set a time of 59:13 in Ras Al Khaimah last year. In total, 10 of the elite athletes in the men’s race hold personal best times under 59:30, promising the mouth-watering prospect of more records falling.
With the race day approaching, training sessions have already kicked off in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah this month. In Dubai, they run every Monday at 7.15pm at Dubai Sports City Track from January 13 to February 10, and every Wednesday at 6.15am at Umm Suqeim Beach from January 15 to February 12 with the meeting point being at the start of the running track. Additionally, Fitness First will offer training sessions at Dubai’s Autodrome in Motor City every Wednesday at 7pm from January 22 to February 12 with the meeting point being at Parc Ferme just outside the Tech Bay garage.
Runners will be competing for a prize purse of Dh1,219,000 distributed across the front-runners of elites as well as the UAE National and age group categories.
Registration will remain open until February 15 whereas bookings for bus services to Ras Al Khaimah from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi can be made during registration until the end of January through therakhalfmarathon.com. All runners that register before the end of January also secure free race pack delivery within the UAE. Participants can enjoy an array of exclusive offers on the iconic Al Marjan Island across several of Ras Al Khaimah’s best hotels and attractions offering an ideal action-packed weekend in the recently named ‘Gulf Tourism Capital’.