Nov 16 – 20/16
Sat, Nov 19, 2016
Gulf Bank 642 Marathon
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Marathon # 380 – Country # 129
After running my first marathon in almost one year, I was feeling a wee bit more confident about running this race. It was a good thing since they had lowered the time limit to 6 hours from the 6:30 posted on the website.
I was a bit surprised that it took over 6 hours to fly from Beirut to Kuwait City (with a 1-hr layover in Bahrain)? However, I arrived in Kuwait City (KC) in time to catch a taxi to a hotel downtown and then walk around for a while to find dinner. I had booked a cheap(er) hotel downtown since my friend/roommate Edson wouldn’t arrive until Thu and western hotels are expensive in KC.
I quickly realized that nothing is cheap in Kuwait. The downtown area I was staying in, was full of restaurants – but no bars since alcohol is forbidden in Kuwait! And the area was crowded with Indians/Pakistanis who are the workers in the country! The Souqs were still open and I was able to find the Gold Souq and start looking for a charm for Nicole’s bracelet. I seemed to be on a good roll?
After a $15 hamburger at an outdoor café I retreated to bed. The next morning I returned to the Souqs to buy a charm but that was the only souvenir I was able to find? I tried to follow directions from the desk clerk to a post office and after getting lost many times and asking for more directions I finally found it only to discover that it didn’t open until 1 pm?
So I packed and moved to the Marriott Hotel which was located closer to the start/finish line but not really convenient to downtown. My friends and fellow members of the Country Club arrived later.
On Sat morning, we shared a taxi to the Souqs and explored all the shops trying to find the rest of my mandatory souvenirs. I quickly determined that a souvenir teaspoon didn’t exist in KC? So I bought a package of stainless steel teaspoons (real ones use to serve tea) figuring I could have one engraved with ‘Kuwait”. Hey – sometimes it is necessary to be resourceful! Kuwait is definitely NOT a tourist destination! There are very few souvenir shops and souvenirs.
Later Edson, Brent & I walked over to the Souq Sharq (a luxury mall similar to any mall in the USA) to pick up our race packets and last-minute information. Luckily I noticed post cards in a tobacco/magazine shop. They were the only post cards I found in the entire country (except at the airport on my departure). Of course, I couldn’t mail them from Kuwait since the post office was now closed, and didn’t open again before I left.
Edson & I walked along the beach on the Persian Gulf to enjoy some of the upscale restaurants located on the beach and a view of the Kuwait Towers - a group of three slender towers that symbolizes Kuwait’s economic resurgence and also World cultural as well as touristic landmark. The Towers serve as a water reservoir for KC. At night they light up with colorful images of the Kuwait flag and other images.
Kuwait is very modern and affluent. It was such a contrast to Beirut!
Sat was M-day. The start/finish line was at the Souq Sharq. There were several races of different lengths and unfortunately they all started at the same time and place. Thus I was forced to sneak up close to the front (still behind baby strollers, etc) so that I wouldn’t be delayed too long at the start. The weather was going to be sunny and warmer than expected so I was concerned about how much the heat would slow me down?
The first section of the race had runners from all races but by the time we passed by the Grand Mosque and through the Souqs downtown we only shared the roads with half-marathoners. We returned to the Souq Mall around 14Km. I reached that point in 1:45:39 and a split of 7:38. The run/walk strategy I used in Beirut had worked well so I stuck with it – walk 2 min and then run to the next KM marker. It was already HOT when I started the first of 4 loops along the Gulf, out past the Kuwait Towers and back. Each loop was 7Km so we had to complete 4 loops. The KM markers were not accurate and that messed up my interval times.
I passed the Half in 2:42:10 and a split of 6:21 (a short KM marker). By the time I passed 30Km in 3:55:34 and a split of 8:24/Km it was HOT! I kept meeting friends at various points along the loop and we were able to cheer each other on.
When I finally reached the 42Km marker I was frustrated because I knew it was grossly inaccurate! It took me 8:34 to run the final 200 meters? Clearly the last 200m was closer to 1Km?
But I crossed the finish line in 5:44:01! Marathon # 380 and Country # 129! Only one more country to go to complete my original goal of 130 countries!
Edson & I walked back to the hotel for a hot shower and then we joined our other friends Brent & Sue for a quick snack – but no beer - before going to bed! We had to leave for the airport at midnight and needed to catch at least 5 or 6 hours of sleep before starting the long 29-hr journey home. Edson had to be at work on Mon and I had to get home to spend time with Jason, Ami and my two Princesses Priya and Mira who were visiting for Thanksgiving.
I managed to catch lots of sleep on the flights so I actually felt OK when I arrived home at midnight on Sun.
Unfortunately, I caught a cold on the flight home (or I accuse Jason of giving it to me), and that has reduced the amount of training I have been able to do. But I need to ramp up my miles again to prepare for my next adventure in Mid –Dec.
Photos of the marathon and Kuwait City are available in an album titled Kuwait on Maddog’s photo website: https://maddog.smugmug.com/Marathons/Kuwait/