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Trail Runner: Hamdan al Khatri gets set for Oman by UTMB

By Hubert Vaz

Back from UTMB France, Hamdan al Khatri gets set for Oman by UTMB

He can pass off as any other office-goer and his gait is no giveaway, but 30 year old Hamdan al Khatri is a power-packed athlete cut out for long distance running, which has become a part of his life over the past few years.

Hamdan was the lone participant from Oman in the UTMB Chamonix (France) last week where he stood 202nd among 1,900 runners, clocking 16 hours, 47 minutes for a 101km distance.

He has now set his eyes on the 170km Oman by UTMB race which will be held in the Hajar mountain range in November.

Hamdan took up running only in 2015. He discovered this side of himself by chance during a fitness course and found it to be a great motivator. It has taught him to challenge his own abilities and raise the bar higher and higher, he says. Physical fitness was merely a by-product of this hobby.

Hamdan, an accountant in the Ministry of Defence, strongly follows the philosophy of believing in yourself and taking up challenges without worrying about the outcome. In the bargain, every individual discovers hidden facets of his/her personality, he says.

His first race was just a 10km run in the UK in 2016, which he completed in 37 minutes. Ever since, he has been researching about various marathons to participate in, like the Muscat Marathon, Desert Marathon and the first edition of Oman by UTMB last year, to better his own record and fitness level.

I try to strike a balance between the time I spend at work, with my family and running. My family knows I am crazy about running and that there is no stopping me, so they support my every venture,” Hamdan told TheWeek in an exclusive chat, adding, “I am an accountant and I have targets to fulfil every day and have no extra leave at my disposal. So I have to make the most of my weekends and holidays to pursue running.”

Stressing that time management is one of the key lessons he learnt from running, Hamdan feels his hobby has made him more focused and time-conscious in everything he does, whether at work or at home. The marathon in France had a cut-off time of around 26 hours, but Hamdan says managed to complete it in less than 17 hours.

Distinguishing between the marathons in France and in Oman, Hamdan pointed out that the rocky terrain in Oman made it more difficult than France which had better mud tracks. Also, the climate is quite different – one has to cope with the heat in Oman whereas France is cold.

He completed the 101km marathon in France in less than a day, and has set before himself a target of 24 hours to complete the 170km Oman by UTMB in November, having started training vigorously every weekend for the same. He is also on the lookout for a suitable trainer who could help him by formulating his fitness regime as well as regulating his nutrition and diet.

Calling on the youth to take up trail running in Oman in a big way, Hamdan pointed out that it has started picking up only lately.

That’s the reason why very few people from Oman can be seen as participants of some of the prestigious and challenging trail runs all over the world.

We need to create more awareness about trail running in Oman,” Hamdan said, adding that it has twin objectives – fitness as well as caring for the environment. Most runners all over the world are environment-conscious and also carry a universal message of protecting the environment wherever they go, he said.

On his trips to various countries for trail runs, Hamdan has got the opportunity to meet many interesting people, learn new aspects of different cultures, get inspired by the efforts of others, and be able to reflect on his own abilities. He has met participants with artificial limbs and advanced age and their determination has encouraged him to do better, he said. Hamdan has also been a cultural ambassador of sorts for Oman and has invited many people to come and discover Oman.

And, the upcoming Oman by UTMB will be a perfect platform for many international athletes to converge in Oman, he said.