Organizers of the Al Adaid Desert Challenge, the Gulf region’s most challenging one-day off-road cycling and running competitions, have announced that they would add a new event to this year’s program – 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 included in the menu, swelling the event to 530 competitors. The addition of the duathlon is expected to further enhance its appeal.
The cycling race is licensed by the UCI, the international governing for the sport. It covers more than 40 km of 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, 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 the 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.”
Event Managing Director Dr Jamal al Khanji, also a 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 al Kuwari 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.
“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,” he added.
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 percent and exceeded 2018 participant numbers.
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 fifth edition. We hope it will continue to inspire people to have an active and healthy lifestyle. We are looking forward to this year’s experience!”
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. 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.”FactfileAl
Adaid Desert Challenge – Fast Facts
* Event date is Friday (February 28, 2020), with races starting at the Mawater dune and finishing at 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 kilometres
* Running race is 30 kilometres
* Duathlon (MTB + RUN format) is 52 kms
* 524 competitors in 2019; 10 elite men and 6 elite women