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Posted On: 30 January 2020 09:52 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:21 pm

Al Adaid Desert Challenge launches Duathlon competition

Khadiza Begum
Khadiza Begum
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Organisers of the Al Adaid Desert Challenge, the Gulf region’s most challenging one day off-road cycling and running competitions, have announced the addition of a new event to this year’s programme; a duathlon encompassing 42km of cycling followed by a 10k run.

The Al Adaid Desert Challenge was launched in 2016 as a mountain bike race and has grown to attract hundreds of local and international athletes. Two years ago, with the rising popularity of desert running in Qatar, a 30k run was added to the programme, swelling the event to 530 competitors. The addition of the duathlon is expected to further enhance its appeal.

The cycling race is licenced by the UCI, the international governing body for sports cycling which oversees international competitive cycling events. It covers more than 40 km of the desert while traversing one of Qatar’s most impressive natural wonders, the ‘Inland Sea’ or Khor Al Adaid.

Representing Qatar National Tourism Council, a partner and leading sponsor of the Challenge, Mr. Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing Officer said: “Qatar has established itself as a major player in the sports tourism industry during the past decade and Al Adaid Desert Challenge plays a huge role in strengthening the country’s reputation as a main destination for adventure sport enthusiasts. We are proud to play our part in that success and to showcase some of Qatar's most iconic cultural and tourism assets in the context of sport.”

Managing Director of the event, Dr Jamal Al Khanji, board member of Qatar cyclists, added: “The event has steadily grown in stature with the mountain biking and trail running community. Its reputation is set to further strengthen with improvements across all and new race formats, which will take competitors throughout the stunning topography of the area to the all-new finish line.”

This year’s race will commence at Mawater sand dune adjacent to Sealine Beach Resort and finish at the recently opened Al Majles Resort. To reach the finish line, competitors will traverse desert ‘highway’, sand sections and eight dunes, one more than previous years, amidst the backdrop of spectacular desert and ocean views.

Qatar Cyclists President Dr Abdulaziz Alkuwari spoke about the race’s impact on a local level: “It makes us enormously proud that this event has captured the hearts and imagination of Qataris. The Al Adaid Challenge is one of the events where we can expect to see our local cyclists out in large numbers. It is a real driver of participation in cycling and, more generally, living a healthy lifestyle involving recreational sport. Cycling is more popular than ever in Qatar, and the Al Adaid Desert Challenge is among our top annual events offering a mix of endurance and adventure sports. Once again, a thrilling finale is expected as Qatari cyclists will be competing for the MTB Cross Country national title.”

While the event attracts large numbers of local endurance athletes, it also has international appeal. Winners of the 2019 elite events included Frédéric Gombert (France) and Qatar resident and former Olympian, Pia Sundstedt (Finland).

Despite the impact of the blockade, The Al Adaid Desert Challenge has achieved year on year growth in participation. Already, 2020 entries have surpassed those of last year by 20% and exceeded 2018 participant numbers.

The challenge also has spectator appeal, with large numbers following the race in 4x4 vehicles and thronging each dune to support. Touching on this, Mr. Jassim Ali A. Al-Moftah, CEO of Doha Insurance Group, said: “It is a privilege and a source of pride to support the Al Adaid Desert Challenge as an official partner, especially in this year marking its 5th edition. With its international appeal, the event gathers the elite of those highly trained in cycling and running. We hope it will continue to inspire people to have an active and healthy lifestyle. We are looking forward to this year’s experience!”

The business community has rallied to support an event which is uniquely Qatari. Manar Khalifa Al-Muraikhi, Director PR and Corporate Communications at Ooredoo, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Al Adaid Desert Challenge again, acting as Gold Sponsor for the 2020 event. As part of our corporate social responsibility strategy, we are committed to supporting events that promote a healthy, active lifestyle - as well as those which encourage community cohesion and showcase our wonderful country and its culture and we’re pleased to have this opportunity to demonstrate this commitment in a practical way. We look forward to an exciting race and wish all the participants the very best of luck in what is always a challenging but incredibly rewarding event.”

Al Adaid Desert Challenge – Fast Facts

  • Event date is Friday, February 28, 2020, with races starting at the Mawater dune and finishing t the new finish line at Al Majles Resort
  • Kids races at the finish line including a new event for 12-15 year olds
  • Mountain bike race is 42 kilometers
  • Running race is 30 kilometers
  • Duathlon (MTB + RUN format) is 52 kilometers
  • 524 competitors in 2019. 10 elite men and 6 elite women

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(Source: Press release)