Race Review: Doha Dash 2016

The Official start of the first Doha Dash 10K - I'm a few rows back
The Official start of the first Doha Dash 10K – I’m a few rows back

Three and a half K’s in and I am going strong. Pace is firmly in the 4:45 per kilometre mark and my new ‘run tall and breathe normally’ methodology appears to be working. It’s warm around the back part of the track though and I am secretly beginning to regret wearing two layers on top. I am also beginning to suspect that this 10K race is not going to be as simple as 2 full laps of the race circuit.

Flash back to the beginning of the day, a windy 7am. Phil and myself have arrived at the designated parking area. The event is well signposted and the parking is well marshalled. Things appear to be happening on time. What is going on? This doesn’t feel like Doha!

Bag drop, enthusiastic music and a local celebrity – Mr Q – in attendance, an efficient Costa Coffee. Plenty of toilets. What is going on? We even start on time!!

Back To The Racing

But then, nobody seemed to know the exact route. We all assumed – which is bad I know. Assumed that because the track is pretty much 5K all the way around and that the start/finish straight seemed to have one side sectioned off – we assumed that we would do 2 laps.

But we did not. And although this was a little distracting at first, I began to quickly to like the idea of the 10K mystery route.

DohaDashCourseData

With it’s highest point being 103 meters, Qatar – and therefore Doha is pretty much flat. So as runners we tend to train on the flat. Running a race at a motorsport circuit, in a largely flat country, we expected the course to be flat. And it was.

Mostly.

Apart from the start of kilometre 6.

By this point, we had left the racetrack and were happily winding our way around the service roads that hug the edges of the Losail circuit. As we seemed to be heading back towards the start/finish it looked like we were about to loop back onto the racetrack (proper).

But no.

Cue the tunnel. The service tunnel built to drop underneath the track. Nobody mentioned any hill! And although it was not too steep – a mere 4 or 5 meters of vertical descent & ascent – yes 4 or 5 – NOBODY was expecting it and we all seemed to loose a bit of pace and momentum.

The Final 500

Despite the unexpected hill (I use the term ‘hill’ loosely) I managed to keep the pace within the right range and I am on target for a sub 50 minute 10K (woo hoo! That IS the plan after all. Although it is going to be close. There may be mere seconds in this between a -50 or a +50 time). As I pass the ‘500 meters to go flag’, a quick glance at the Garmin has me running a sub 5minK and I am about to tick over to my 47th minute. I have 3 minutes to run 500 meters, and I should get there in 2 1/2. Yay.

But this course has not finished with me yet. As I turn the final corner, the Finish line within distance, some 300 meters away, I am blasted in the face by a vicious headwind.

“Nooooooooooo!” I scream. “Why you bastard, why!” I shout, shaking my fist in anger at the sky – metaphorically of course. But time is a ticking and I forge on. As the time ticks up and the meters remaining tick down, some brief mental maths tells me I can make it. I can make it at this pace. But it’s the finish, maybe I should sprint. But the headwind, the fast pace and my general effort is making me feel a little nauseous. If I put on a spurt – I might stop short of the finish in an explosive fountain of vomit. No. No. I think I should just stick to this pace. This is safe, this is on target. This gets me that sub 50 PB.

49:33  - PB Smashed!!
49:33 – PB Smashed!!

Overall

Fast and flat would be a very good classification for this 10K. The first 3rd of the field managed to get around in under 50mins and half the overall field completed in under an hour. Whether the weather and location were part of the reason or that the prize giving was taking place 1 hour after race start – not entirely sure but from what I have read and from whom I have spoken to – it looks like a lot of people set a new PB today.

So if you see yourself as a travellie-runner type and ever fancy a warm, fast, flat 10K in an unusual place, then come check it out.

And For Me? Next Target?

So Phil, my travel buddy and who I have been running with recently, managed a sub 60 and is up for more running. I know I can train to get faster, I seriously think a sub 45 is within reach and I think I can help Phil find the 50 minute mark too. But where? When? Well, the Q-Series is launching a Spring run series here in April. Night runs, max distance ½ marathon. Good 10K territory.

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