Days until Wadi Bih: 1 So, the final challenge is nearly upon us. Yet this week’s run-up (excuse the pun) hasn’t been without its challenges. With just four days to go, we discover that our five-man team had been reduced to three, with two of our team-mates unable to compete at the weekend. Cue a frantic rush to recruit more members: I spend a few hours trying to persuade vaguely sporty colleagues that running 15km up a mountain will be ‘loads of fun’ and ‘a piece of cake’.
Luckily, we soon find two hardy competitors to save the day: seasoned runner Heather Mackenzie, who adds a touch of class to our team (she completed the Dubai Creek Striders half-marathon in a cracking 1 hour 40 mins), and Nike Run Club stalwart Sach Holden, who to date has attended 22 run club sessions, making him far and away the most diligent member of the club. They’ll be joining myself,7 Days features guru Julian Pletts and Nike Run Club’s Greg Moore to make up Team 197 (here’s hoping our team number doesn’t also denote our finishing position).
My team-mates and I convene for a final Nike training run at Dubai Festival City on Tuesday, involving some gruelling sprints, far too many press-ups and a couple of laps of the mall. It also gives me a chance to break in my new trainers: they feel super-light and springy, although it takes me a few attempts to tie the laces tightly enough so they don’t slip off, but loose enough so they don’t cut off the circulation to my toes. After the session, I feel surprisingly confident – I’m tired from all the sprinting, but I feel energized and more than ready to take on the wadi.
As I write, final preparations are under way: passports have been packed, checked and triple-checked (we’ll need to pass through the Dibba border checkpoint to reach the start line in Musandam), and I’ve invested in a new neon green hot-water bottle to keep my feet warm during our night of camping before the race. I skim-read all the competitors’ info sheets, and my stomach does a mini flip-flop as I glance through the details of the course: there’s an awful lot of uphill running to be done. What have I let myself in for? Find out in my race report on Sunday – assuming we make it through the wadi in one piece…