On Friday week I’ll take part in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. I’ll be visiting my brother so I thought I’d kill two birds (i.e. brother and marathon) with one stone (a return ticket to Dubai). This will be my eight marathon and will be attempting to run my fastest time yet. I’ll be aiming for 2:54:59 to be precise. I ran the 2013 Dublin Marathon in 2:58:56, which is a 5’50” per mile pace, so I’ll need to run a 5’40” pace to hit my target. I’m not sure how I’ll do as this race has more unknowns than I’m used to. Seven of my previous marathons were in Dublin so obviously I know that course and conditions very well. As you can see from the map below the Dubai Marathon course won’t win any prizes for creativity! This very simple route makes it one of the fastest marathon courses in the world. Runners’ World rates it as the second fastest course in the world (for men) with an average top-10 finish time of 2:04:48. The course looks slightly straighter than last year so Dubai seems to be attempting to make it the fastest course in the world. Maybe the world record will be broken this year! It is also the world’s richest marathon with a top prize of US$200,000 for men and women. If I hit my target time it should place me in the top 100 male finishers (there were 1852 male finishers last year and 559 female finishers).
- The Course: Even though the course is virtually completely straight I wonder will it be psychologically more difficult not having a bend in the road to aim for. However I’m presuming the road surface will be perfect (Dublin has a few parts with potholes and speedramps).
- The Weather: This is my big fear. The marathon website says that the temperature should be 10-15 degrees celsius at the 7am start. Last year it was foggy which would suit me perfectly. My fear is direct sunlight. I’m okay in warm weather when it’s shady but not so good in direct sunlight. The videos on youtube don’t seem to offer any hope of shade so I’m hoping it doesn’t get too hot too soon. On the plus side there should be almost no wind which will be a relief. It is always windy during winter in Dublin. Also training in the cold (usually 6-12 degrees celsius but with a wind chill) is much more draining than training in the summer so hopefully I’ll find the warmth easier.
- The Organisation: The Dublin Marathon is excellently organised so hopefully Dubai will be as well organised from the collection of the race number to the post-finish facilities.
- The Crowd: The Dublin Marathon has fantastic crowd support. It’s a fantastic feeling running the last couple of miles with thousands of people lining the streets. Looking at the videos the crowds are fairly sparse in Dubai so I’ll have to keep myself motivated a bit more.
- Pacing: As far as I know there are no pacemakers in the Dubai Marathon so I’ll have to keep a close eye on my pace throughout. Also as I’m aiming for my fastest time ever I’m hoping I won’t hit the wall at some stage…
So hopefully all goes to plan. As always I’ll give it 100% and hopefully have something left in the tank to increase the pace for the last couple of miles.