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Friday 30th March – From Our Own (Middle East) Correspondent (KSA)


OAC’s Nick Hodgkinson reports:

I have just had an awesome running weekend with two ‘Firsts’.

First first – Fell Running Arrives in KSA

Bored of running around compounds, I suggested that the Riyadh Road Runners (RRR) tried something a little different – Fell Running. Only we don’t have any fells, so our best substitute was running up and down the Tuwaiq escarpment.

This is a 1,000′ high limestone escarpment running for several hundred miles SW of Riyadh. There are only a few locations where the escarpment can be crossed, where there are old camel trails. We picked the nearest to Riyadh which still involved a 10k drive along the top of the escarpment by 4WD car. I attach a few pictures (see Club Photos) which do not really give a proper feel for the scale of the task. There is absolutely no way that camels could ever manage this route!!

Having finally got to the bottom we were shouted at by a bunch Bedouins, who were clearly very surprised to see runners emerging from the escarpment. The Arab speakers in our group confirmed that the shouts were friendly and included words such as ‘loco’ ‘crazy Englishmen’…. how they knew that some of us were English, I have no idea! On the strength of this run I have at least two takers for the 3 Peaks. My final task will be to introduce Moonlighting!!

Second First – A New 5k PB!!

Earlier today I achieved a new 5k PB. Yes, a real PB, not just a Middle East PB. I have no idea of my time because I passed the finishing line too quickly for the time-keepers to clock me in. And how do I know that this was a PB without knowing my time? In eighteen years of running with OAC, I have never actually run a 5k!

This was the final RRR race of the season. From now on it gets far too hot to run. It is also likely to be my final official race with the RRR. They are a fantastic group of people who have made my stay here a real pleasure. I have made many new running friends and now have appointments all over the world to run future exotic races.

My leaving do will involve watching Chariots of Fire.

  1. #1 by phil robinson on March 31, 2012 - 10:57 am

    cracking stuff nick… great pictures – if you like deserts – which i do… is it really limestone? looks awfully sandy to me…

  2. #2 by Nick Hodgkinson on March 31, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    Hi Phil, so at least one person reads my occasional reports !!

    As you say, it looks very much like sandstone (and certainly it crumbles away like a soft sandstone when you are trying to find a grip, with a 100m+ drop inches away) but it is actually a reconstituted limestone, formed when the original more solid limestone collapsed due to the disolution of gypsum below. The rock is actually now better described as a Breccia, but I thought that limestone would be accurate enough for the running club. If you need any more information you could contact the Saudi Geological Society. Best Wishes. Nick

  3. #3 by Dale Foster on April 2, 2012 - 9:46 am

    As long as you don’t find a “Broad Stand” equivalent out there !!!

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