THE LITTLE RACE THAT COULD - CELEBRATING 5 YEARS WITH THE BIGGEST FIELD YET
Attracting just 636 participants in its inaugural year the RAK Half Marathon certainly had quite a mountain to climb to be taken seriously on both the local and international road racing scene. Yet this was one new race that chose not to focus immediately on promoting huge crowds from the get-go or offer huge prize money to lure the best talent to the start line. It did instead decide what it wanted to be and then set about following that ambition year after year.
Now, nearly 5 years on the RAK Half Marathon has firmly established itself as one of the premier competitive half marathons in the world, for men and women. Notching up an impressive array of world and national records along the way, this emerging emirate of the UAE currently holds two of the top 4 all-time fastest times for men and that's not even its main feature. According to Race Director Nathan Clayton, the goal has always been to strike a balance between providing a world class elite race and the same quality of race extended to every other single participant; “we want everyone to feel that their place in the race is important to us, as well as to themselves.”
And just as the Little Engine in the well known children's fable managed to overcome the odds, so this tiny race has shown equal determination and strength and has quickly benefitted from the support shown by the local and international running community, recording growth of registrations in excess of 400% in just four years and this includes a 45% increase in the number of UAE Nationals running the course. With registration now closed, organizers have announced a record field for 2011 of 2,066 individual half marathoners and 138 Relay Teams pushing the total number of runners on the start line this February to over 2600. With overall prize money reductions a result of the recent global situation, the spirit of participation appears to shine through brighter than the prize pot as evidenced by nearly 10% of the field flying in to the country to participate this 18th February. Additionally, the 89 nationalities that will collectively line up represent a growing trend that organizers and local government officials' hope will only get bigger and better with each subsequent edition.
Due to the popularity of this event growing year on year, organizers are already promising an increase on the total amount of registrations permitted for the 2012 race. With just two weeks left until the 2011 race, final preparations are now underway, including the impending announcement of the elite field.
For more information please visit www.rakmarathon.org