RAK Marathon

The Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon took place on 20 February in temperatures of about 26 degrees centigrade. A total number of 1,500 runners participated, taking the flat course in their stride. Some of the runners formed part of the Team Relay Challenge whereby a team of four runners all run 5km each.

Ras Al Khaimah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It can be found nestling between the Hajjar Mountains on the east of the city and the Arabian Gulf on the western side.

The mind-blowing news from the RAK Half Marathon is that the 20k world record was smashed by a whole 10 seconds by Kenya's Patrick Makau, despite battling strong head winds. His record-breaking time at the 20km mark was 55:38, beating that set by Haile Gebreselassie of 55:48, which was achieved while running in Phoenix, Arizona, in January 2006.

Samuel Wanjiru set a 20km time of 55:31 during a half marathon in The Hague in March 2001. However, this was not ratified by a manual timer - a stipulated requirement for full world record ratification.

Not surprisingly, Patrick Makau was the winner of the RAK Half Marathon with a time of 58:52, closely followed in second place by Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich from Kenya in a time of 58:59.

The women's race was won by Ethiopia's Dire Tune with a time of 1:07:18 and second place went to Aselefech Mergia, also from Ethiopia, in a time of 1:07:48.

Athletes competing in the RAK Half Marathon should have left the course very satisfied with their hard work and training before the event, as there were five men who broke the one hour barrier and ten women who broke seventy minutes. Such results were further testament to the quality of competitors and the course itself.

For winner table click here
www.rakmarathon.org

Course Measurement with Dave Cundy & Fran Seton

Measuring the Beijing Olympic Marathon course

How many people does it take to measure a marathon course? Answer: it depends! We have measured many courses with little or no support. However, last year we measured the Olympic marathon course in Beijing and the number must have approached 40. Dave had been appointed by the IAAF as the official course measurer for the Games and was responsible for the marathon and race walks courses.

Measurement is done by the only mechanism approved by the IAAF and AIMS - the calibrated bicycle method using a Jones counter.

We had five cyclists on the measurement team - Dave & Fran from Australia, Hugh Jones from the UK, Norrie Williamson from South Africa, and Chinese measurer Hu Xinmen.

On rare occasions, we have measured with five or more cyclists but the 11 support vehicles that arrived at the Tiananmen Square start line set a record.
Some were police vehicles which is common for the safety of measurers, particularly as we must ride the "shortest possible route" so are continually crossing lanes.

In most cities the police facilitate a quick ride around the course, such as waving us through red lights at 3am when there is no traffic. But this was not the case in China where we struck the most conservative police in the world.

At least our safety never became an issue! Beijing streets were incredibly quiet in the early hours of the morning. In an Olympic city of 18 million, we were surprised at the lack of traffic, particularly around 7am when it starts to build up in most major cities.

In anticipation of heavy traffic we planned to start measuring at midnight and finish around 4am. We had plenty of support and a 4 hour marathon, even with a stop each kilometre seemed feasible.

When we reached the finish line at 9am, our efforts at time under-estimation received maximum marks. For a variety of reasons, it was a long, slow night but it was all necessary to ensure that Sammy Wanjiru's time of 2.06.32 could be recognised officially as an Olympic record.

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