Femmes on foot

Time Out goes behind the scenes of Doha’s first-ever all-female run across the country Discuss this article

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Long RUNS are great, but a 90km race from Costa on the Corniche to Dukhan Beach all the way up is no ordinary feat. Kilometres will be covered, injuries will be overcome and records will be broken as Qatar’s first-ever all-female crossing on foot takes place in January 2019.

Inspired by an inaugural mixed-gender East to West run in 2018, Stephanie Innes Smith, a faculty member from Doha British School, decided to organise this extraordinary exploit in the hopes of encouraging women of all backgrounds, ages, shapes, nationalities, religions and abilities to embrace either running or any other arduous outdoor activity for their own benefit and to make friends, become healthier and inspire other young people along the way. “A significant proportion of the women on the team are teachers, like me, and I feel we are in an excellent position to help mould, encourage and influence the young people we teach to push themselves and try things without fear of failure,” she says.

Representing nine different nationalities, 41 women are participating in the event – 31 will complete the entire distance and the rest will split up into relay teams. Women of all age groups are in this together and 49-year-old Wendy McCracken is in high spirits, although she’s never attempted anything like this before. “For me, the mindset is the biggest motivator and barrier,” she says. “One of the best ways to prepare for this is to be surrounded by like-minded women who are driven and support each other.” She doesn’t believe one has to be “super fit” to participate. “Sport promotes participation, social interaction, resilience, confidence and positivity. None of us can be exceptional at everything but we can always be better than we were yesterday,” she says.

Lynsey Bramston is going all out to prepare for the run. “I run four times a week, research nutrition, use yoga and review online resources,” she says. Katherine Milton, similarly, is training with full dedication. “I have put together a schedule based on recommendations from our organiser, my mother (who trained for the London Marathon in 14 weeks) and magazines. I am slowly building up the kilometres and am trying to vary my training with some boxercise and cross-fit and sprints to keep it interesting,” says Milton who is experienced with running up to 25km. Leah Harding did two half marathons in a week. She loves a good challenge and recognises that women don’t have a strong sports presence in Qatar. “We have giant billboards of Lionel Messi and high jumpers, but not many female athletes on display (if any at all),” she says.

The challenge is different for some. “The biggest challenge in this event will probably be the conditions and trying to keep hydrated and consume enough calories throughout the day,” says Adele Ifan, who is a Type 1 diabetic. “This adds another dimension for me and I have to make sure my blood sugar remains optimal for continuous exercise.” For Amanda Bawn, her biggest challenge would be avoiding injuries, staying mentally focused and not neglecting her family while training.

Despite being from all different walks of life, the women have united in their ultimate goals, which is to empower other women and of course, set new personal bests. The run has allowed like-minded ladies the opportunity to be a part of a community that shares the same interests, from supporting each other at races to team socials and Whatsapp groups, the participants are working together. One of the team members has volunteered to provide yoga classes while another provides them with professional training, for instance.

We’re looking forward to supporting the women on the day of the event. The majority of the run will take place on the old road which runs parallel to the Doha-Dukhan road, so it is free for everyone to come and cheer. Volunteer opportunities are available, too. We’ll be at the front lines with coffee.
Free. Open to public. Jan 25, 6am-onwards. Costa Coffee, Al Corniche.


Time Out Doha,

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