DOHA: Organisers of the Al Adaid Desert Challenge, the Gulf region’s most challenging one-day off-road cycling and running competitions, will add duathlon from this year.
The event consists of 42km of cycling followed by a 10k run.
“It makes us enormously proud that this event has captured the hearts and imagination of Qataris," said Qatar Cyclists President Dr Abdulaziz al Kuwari.
The competition 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 licenced 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.”
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.
“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,” added Al Kuwari.
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).