RAK Half Confirmed as the Place to Race

A serene and sunlit spring morning in Ras Al Khaimah greeted over 2,000 runners on Friday for the 4th edition of the RAK Half Marathon. While the 7:20 am start was designed to favor the elite participants, the event delivered fast times, if not record-breaking performances.

Women’s Race Highlights

In a remarkable half marathon debut, a Turkish runner set a new course record of 1:07:07, defeating a highly competitive field of top road racers. The first eight women finished under 69 minutes, underscoring the event’s strength in depth.

Men’s Race Highlights

In the men’s contest, the anticipated challenge by an Ethiopian runner faltered when he stepped off the road at 18km. This opened the door for another Kenyan victory, with Geoffrey Mutai claiming the win in 59:43. The first four men broke the hour mark, reinforcing RAK’s reputation for lightning-fast times.

The Turkish athlete’s post-race comments suggested some frustration with the early pace, “If the pace had been faster and steadier, my time could have been a lot quicker. I felt easy at 15km (48:03) and it was only then I decided to start pushing the pace.”

Under the guidance of Croatian coach Nicola Boric for just ten weeks, this race marked an important career move for the 27-year-old runner. She expressed excitement about future possibilities over this new distance, although her marathon debut would wait until after the 2012 Olympics.

Race Conditions and Splits

The early pace of 16:02 for 5km was disappointing despite the perfect conditions (18C at the start), but hopes rose as the pack passed 10km in 31:54. However, the pace slowed to 15km in 48:03, dashing any hopes of a world record attempt. At that point, the lead group included six runners.

As the race progressed, the pace picked up, with a 15:44 split to 20km testing the more experienced competitors. While some fell back, the Turkish runner surged ahead to set a new record.

Men’s Race Dynamics

The men’s race, though not yielding personal bests for the top runners, featured strong performances. The early pace was restrained, with the pack passing 5km in 14:04 and 10km in 28:11. By 15km, only six contenders remained, with the final split times making the one-hour mark look precarious.

For 28-year-old Mutai, this race reinforced his status as a runner to watch. Despite high humidity, he controlled the last mile, finishing in 59:43. Notably, this marked his seventh sub-60 half marathon finish.

Event Growth and Future Prospects

The RAK Half Marathon continues to grow, with a 30% increase in the overall field size and over a quarter of a million dollars in prize money. This year’s race featured 2,000 individual half marathoners and 138 relay teams. The tiny emirate has firmly established itself as “the place to race,” with a reputation for producing fast times and attracting elite runners worldwide.

Further Information: The RAK Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Race and a full member of the Association of Marathons and Distance Running (AIMS).

Premier Marathons, established in 2001, conceptualizes, creates, and organizes world-class road races. They are the lead organizers of the RAK Half Marathon.

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