Running Away in Qatar

With daytime temperatures reaching a broiling 42C (108F) or more, Qatar does not appear to be a premier location for outdoor physical activity. However, there are many brave souls who run regardless.

In Doha, Qatar's capital, there is a group of twenty-some people who sacrifice physical comfort (and their weekends) to run the Corniche, Doha's shoreline. The Doha Bay Running Club was established in October 2010 and is an open for anyone hoping to get into running or train for the many races in and around the Middle East. They meet every Friday morning at as early as 5:30am, where they proceed to run against the clock to beat the heat. They also host training and social events several times throughout the month. The club is very informal and is great for those hoping to stay in shape whilst living in Doha.

The Qatar West Coast Hash House Harriers, like their other hash running counterparts (e.g., in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) organize running trips into the desert and social events at home. This athletic club is the perfect place to meet people since the club is formed entirely of expatriates. The club is not based in Doha, but its headquarters in Dukhan are only 60 km (37 miles) away from the capital, Doha.

For the more serious runner, there are many marathons which occur in nearby countries to Qatar, from the Amman International Marathon in Jordan to the Dubai Marathon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some runners even claim it is more than economically feasible to travel to marathons as far as Nepal or Greece. You can also measure yourself up to Ancient Egyptian warriors by completing the grueling 100 km Pharaonic Race through the Egyptian desert in under eight hours (the time it took King Taharka's army in 690 BCE).

For the less serious runner, there are still many attractive options just outside of Qatar. You may run the Ras Al Khaiman (RAK) Half Marathon in the UAE, and also in the UAE, or the picturesque Wadi Bih Run near the UAE — Oman border. Casual runners also have the excuse to travel to exotic locations for marathons to cheer their friends on.

Joining a running organization offers a tremendous opportunity to stay in shape and meet friends at the same time. Furthermore, running opens the opportunity for travel outside of Qatar since many of the events are in far-flung locations. The geographic proximity of Doha means many countries, previously inaccessible, become available at your fingertips, and running is the perfect and healthiest way to see them.

Read the story of a fellow runner's experience in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s:

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