Saturday, August 15, 2009

A weekend away at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

This weekend we managed to get away from Dubai and make use of my Jumeirah colleague benefit of staying at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort. The hotel is about 30 minutes out of town and is a nice quite hideaway from busy Dubai. I was not sure whether I was going to run or not and took my kit along just in case. My left knee has been a bit tender the last couple of days. Last year I had an ACL operation on the knee after a rugby injury, so every now and again I can feel it. I think it is just the amount of running I am doing now, will take some time for the knee to get used to it, so nothing serious!

Bab Al Shams is a charming little resort and from the moment we walked in I could feel the stress of the city lifting of my shoulders. One of my old Widi Wadi colleagues was at and to show us to our suite, tucked away in a quite little corner of the resort! Perfect! We headed out the very cool infinity pool located right next to the desert sand and chilled for the afternoon. Looking out across the sand I decided I definitely have to go for a run in the sand as it would be a shame not too, and luckily my running kit was in the bag ready to be used the next day!

On Friday morning we stayed in bed and had some yummy breakfast and then headed out to the pool. I booked a massage for the afternoon straight after my run! I decided to run at noon to feel the heat and test myself against the elements. I have done some good sessions in the heat so this was not too much of a problem. I have pack my camel bag and at around 11h30 I headed out into the desert. From the start I was pretty stoked to be out there as this was a taste of things to come when we arrive in Morocco! And from the start I also figured out what is going the be one of my most valuable investments, gaiters for my running shoes as sand was pouring in like there is no tomorrow!

I had a nice little breeze keeping me relatively cool, however, the glare reflecting off the sand is is very strong. Good thing my running glasses are polarized! I also kept a hat in my bag for later in the run as I could feel the sun will burn more and more as I sweat. I covered a good few kilometers in the first half of the run across the sand but I could feel sand collecting in the front of the shoe. I stopped and took the shoe off just and was amazed how much sand got into the shoe. I was conscious of sinking to deep into the sand, however, sand still got in, through the shoe and the sock!

Here is a photo of some sand that got through my shoes. I had to stop every few K`s to empty my shoes, socks and then to rinse the sand from my toes. I have seen some photos of serious blisters caused by sand inside a shoe. It is absolutely crucial to keep the sand out as much as possible and look after my feet. When I am in the MDS my feet will be looked after like gold, as they will have to carry me across the best of what the Sahara has to offer in terms of terrain. My mate Anthony will send some old shoes in SA where his friend with test some industrial glue on the shoes and velcro strips that will attach the gaiters to the shoes. If we get this part right from the beginning, my feet will be thanking me later for all the effort put in! Thanks Ant!

While I was out there running and singing along to the Ipod I saw a very interesting structure in the distance. I was very curious to see what is was so I headed across to sand towards the building. This area is used for cross country endurance races for Arabian horses, so I got closer I realized that this was an arena where the horses would start and finish. The closer I got the the buildings I realized just have massive the place is! Every here is bigger and better than anywhere in the world and this place is no exception! I was really amazed with how big this place is, and it was clear that this place has not been used all summer, bit with the winter approaching this arena should come alive again.
This is the inside of the arena. On both sides of the oval is to towers with podiums and it was almost like running back into time and I could imagine the atmosphere with the arena filled with people and horses galloping through the arena at full speed! I am going to make a point of visiting back here in the racing season to see and feel the atmosphere. The Arabs are very proud equestrian people and love their Arabian thoroughbreds. This must be a sight to behold!I have done a real touristy run and took some more pictures of the great arena!

Just back from my run, I was out for about 90 minutes, could not go longer as I was running out of water and the last place I want to be stuck is in the desert without any shade or water. I was very happy with the run and will be back to do some more runs in the area. I am also planning to do a run from where I live out to Bab Al Shams, total distance is around 46km. Will be a good test with a full backpack!
Thanks for reading!

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