|Start of the 5k race: Spot my blue Saucony trainers, that's me.|
Calculating as I am, I checked the results of previous years of the women’s 5k and 10k to see where I had the biggest chances of getting into the prizes. The Dubai Women’s run has monetary prizes for the Top 10. It’s well known that they fly in some elite runners for both races. But there was always space for Dubai based runners at the bottom of the Top 10. This is where I wanted to see my name.
I signed up for the 5k race. My time of 41:22 at the Abras 10k three weeks ago made me believe I could run a time close to 20:00 in the 5k.
The races took place at Meydan racecourse, an ideal place to hold events of that size. Apparently, 3.000 women had signed up. Meydan could accommodate them easily with plenty of parking and enough space for everyone to get ready.
At the bib number collection I saw what the majority of the 3.000 people were about: very much concerned if the free t-shirt would fit properly. As it was only women picking up their numbers, the hall looked like a huge changing room. I got my bib number changed for an elite bib number, so I wouldn’t have to fight my way past slower runners at the start line.
I arrived early at Meydan. The place looked like a huge market place with plenty of stalls to pick up freebies from. The vibe was more that of a fun run. There was no follow up email from the organizers as to when the two races would start. Both at the same time? One after the other? I struggled to find someone who could tell me, until I saw marshals which turned out to be volunteers from one of the local running clubs. They seemed to be the only knowledgeable people on the course. It turned out the 10k race would start at 7am and the 5k at 7.15am.
After the 10k people set off, the 5k people had to line up. Now it was time to check the elites and the familiar fast Dubai-based runners. I counted 8 elites from Africa and Eastern Europe. Then there were three fast runners from local running clubs and myself. So twelve of us.
There were so many latecomers of the 10k race that set off 10-15 minutes after the initial start gun, that our race only started at 7:20am. I found it quite warm and humid. However, weather always affects everyone, so no excuses for that. The elites ran off at their stupendous pace. I stuck with Debbie, one of the local club runners at a 4:00 minute pace for the first 1k. Another one of us local runners, Tatiana, was in front of us. I know that she usually runs off very fast. My hope was to catch her later. Another girl overtook me on the first km. I didn’t know her, so wasn’t sure how to take it. She was unexpected in my calculation. Debbie got in front of me too (no surprise although she ensured me several times before the race that she is very unfit... sure, Debbie!!). This setting got me stuck in 12th position.
I couldn’t get much closer to the others for more than half the race. Tatiana and Debbie were out of reach, although I could see them. Only towards the end, I caught up to the girl that overtook me in the beginning. Another 100m and I would have got her. I finished one second behind her in 20:25, believing that I was in 12th position. Tatiana was the first Dubai based runner finishing in 20:03, followed by Debbie in 20:12.
Knowing that I was not in the prizes I went to collect my freebies at the stalls and went home. Checking the results online, I learned that I was in fact in 11th position, missing the Top 10 by only one second. Oh damn, how stupid was that? Would I have tried harder to catch that girl in front of me if I had known that it would get me into the Top 10? I don’t know. I think I did all I could. My pace was even, I even got faster towards the end. My lungs were burning on the last half km (something I hate about the short distance races).
Perhaps I should practice my counting. Obviously, there were only seven elites. Never mind, it is what it is. Still enjoyed the race, and am very happy for Tatiana to have done so well.
Another bitter pill to swallow after missing out on the prizes at the Dubai Women’s Run was that a whole bunch of running mates had beaten my half marathon PB in Abu Dhabi. They had fantastic conditions and a nice flat new course. Well done guys, but the war is on now :)! I want my crown back.