This is the first story on the RAK Half marathon by our friend, Pat Butcher, the famed sports writer behind globerunner blog.
Dubai, Monday, Jan 15, 12.00gmt
STARS DESCEND ON RAS AL KHAIMAH ‘HALF’
Olympic women’s marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir and last year’s men’s winner, Benard Kibet are just the first two of what is expected to be a constellation of stars at the Ras Al Khaimah Half-Marathon on Saturday, February 24.
Jepchirchir’s quality is underlined not only by her Olympic win in Tokyo but also by her three world half-marathon titles and the considerable feat of being the only woman to simultaneously hold the Olympic, New York, and Boston marathon titles, which she achieved in the seven months between August 2021 and April 2022. For good measure, when she won this RAK ‘half’ in 2017, it was in a then-world record of 65min 06sec, which remains her best time.
Her compatriot Kibet is one of many Kenyans who, over the years, have been recruited to run on one of Japan’s corporate teams. He is similarly unusual in being one of the diminishing numbers of athletes who combine track with road running. He is a 13min 5000-metre runner and has several 10,000-metre clockings just over 27mins. But his victory last year in RAK in 58.45 put him in the top ten for the year.
Peres Jepchirchir, photo by Giancarlo Colombo/RAK Organizers
Since its inauguration in 2007, the RAK race has proved to be one of the fastest half-marathons on the international circuit. Ras Al Khaimah is one of the smallest of the seven emirates which constitute the United Arab Emirates. And, though the competitors will have other things on their minds, the race is run around the spectacular seaside circuit on the gorgeous promontory of Marjan Island.
Given that the RAK race is less than six weeks away, that also means a rapid turnaround for event organizers Pace Events, who have been invited by the RAK Tourist Development Authority to take over the event in the wake of their successful stewardship of the Dubai Marathon, whose latest edition, just last weekend, featured the fastest women’s debut in history, 2.16.07 for Tigist Ketema of Ethiopia.
Race Director and Pace Events CEO Peter Connerton said today, ‘We were honored and enormously gratified to be invited by the Ras Al Khaimah tourist authorities to organize an event like the RAK half-marathon. We feel it’s a reflection of the success we’ve had with the Dubai Marathon since 2000. We’ve added a 10k to the RAK program since we’ve seen how successful the shorter event has been in Dubai, either as a challenge in its own right or as a stepping stone for runners on the way to a half or full marathon. Peres Jepchirchir and Benard Kibet are the first of many leading names we shall be announcing for the RAK ‘half’ in the coming weeks”.