A recent work trip to Dubai required some extracurricular activities to avoid over-eating and to help acclimatise. I contacted the Dubai Creek Striders (DCS) and Urban Ultra via Facebook as both looked like they did interesting stuff in and out of the city, asking when they trained and if anything was on of interest. A reply from both said it was the Dubai Triathlon Festival early on the Friday morning which I had free, so I signed up, found a bike hire, sorted the collection logistics, and figured it would be a good way to acclimatise 7hrs after I landed. I also noted two 18.30 interval sessions with the DCS within a few miles of my hotel. Great.
I entered the Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) figuring the Olympic at twice the distance could too hot for a sleep deprived, pale skinned aspirant Jock, who last ran in +8C with the forecast for the end of the race >30C. Best to enjoy it rather than melt. I found the venue, glad to have hire car rather than a taxi since it was by the sea, in the desert, about 5 miles from the nearest hotel (rather than from the hotel). I found the bike hirer and set the bike up opting for flat pedals for such a short bike section. My swim was hot and I exited in mid-pack I think. I lost a few minutes on the hired bike after taking the Super Sprint turn off and having to re-cross a sand strip back onto my road. Other than that, only very expensive bikes overtook me and the breeze kept the sweat off. The run went really well being overtaken by only one person and finishing with a top 15 time with a 4.42/km pace! Any further and I would have slowed in the heat. Overall, 34/300 and 4th V50.
The next day I got up at 04.30 and drove 2 hrs to a mountain called Jebel Hafeet near Al Ain. Strava showed the route up and down to be 21km (CR – Paul Faulkner) so an early start could bag a desert Munro before it got too hot and before a recce of a site. By some freakish and random coincidence, I met Paul Faulkner in a parking place in the Green Mubazzarah Park at the bottom while I was looking for a map of the hill. Weird, unplanned, unbelievable. In short, he showed me to the route start and gave advice for at the top, left me for dead in the morning heat, bought me breakfast in his hotel, and drove me back to the bottom of the hill to save my legs on the tarmac. Totally weird but great to meet up after 2 years.
Monday and Wednesday night saw me finish my meetings in time to find the Interval Sessions at 18.30 with the DCS club – one doing pyramids on a 400m track and one doing 1/2M training on a 1500m loop around an artificial pond. The sessions were quite “structured” unlike our “let’s go” Wintervals but very friendly folk, interesting sessions and my first ever track session, and nice to exchange club information. I am not sure I will do another track session since you have to try and run fast.
So, apart from having to work as well, a rather satisfactory trip. One race, one hill bagged with a 007 style Prince’s Lair on the top, 2 club meets and a final visit around an amazing Grand Mosque.