Friday, September 13, 2013

Nine miles in memory of Roy Nasr

Start time: 6am.

Temperature at start time: 31C

Temperature at finish: 40C

Current temperature: 34C

Distance covered today: 14.86km, time: an eternity.

Distance covered this week: 27.82km

Today's orange pic is courtesy of an uber-runner and former colleague of him indoors, who found it on instagram and said it reminded her of me. I should add at this point that my old school chum, who supplied last week's fox pic, has started an orange4myeloma account on Instagram, where you can see all kinds of fun and unusual orange pics.

This week, we joined the Dubai Creek Striders, our local long-distance running club, for our long run. The reason I'm not sure about my time today is that I gave the running watch to him indoors. The "social group" section of the Striders, that we were running with, like to make several stops for water, something that was particularly welcome for me, as, although I started off near the front, by the 10th kilometre, I was at the back and struggling as the sun got higher in the sky. The social group run is the slowest group, running an average of 1km every six minutes. On a good day, I usually average 1km between roughly 6min 20 secs and 6min 45 secs, so I just about kept up. The fastest group takes just four and a half minutes to run a kilometre. Scary.

It was an emotional start to today's session as it was held in memory of Roy Nasr, a triathlete who lived in the Emirate for a long time and did a lot to promote the sport here. He was killed a week ago when a car hit his bike on the flyover that crosses Sheikh Zayed Road near Safa Park. I didn't know Mr Nasr, but, as you quickly discover when you move here, Dubai is but a village and I know people who knew him, and his death has clearly sent shock waves through the triathlon and sports community.

A minute's silence was held in his memory before we set out on the run and many runners turned up in fluorescent gear to raise awareness of the need for road safety when out running or cycling. Armbands and tags on which you can write your name, emergency contact and medical details were also handed out.

Understandably, the Striders' organisers were particularly keen to enforce the safety message today, and, they were strict about us running single file when we ran over the flyover where the accident occurred.

One of the many terrible things about Mr Nasr's death is that I have seen comments on stories written about his death declaring that "Dubai is too dangerous for cycling", or similar. As I have said, I did not know Mr Nasr, but, reading the many tributes to him, I am willing to bet that people feeling too unsafe to get on their bikes and go out on Dubai's roads would be the last thing he would want. Such attitudes could be disastrous for the future of the Emirate in my view. It is true that the climate in Dubai is far from ideal for cycling at certain times of year. And yes, the driving standards are pretty dreadful. You simply cannot trust people to see you and stop on time, so it's totally up to the pedestrian or cyclist to look out for their own safety. But, reliant as we currently are on fossil fuels to power our high-powered vehicles, we all know that that can't last forever, and, sooner or later, alternatives will have to be considered, such as hybrid vehicles and manpower. Plus, the health situation in the form of a growing obesity crisis is critical in the UAE, and the more people can be encouraged to exercise, in any form, the better. Discouraging them would be nothing short of criminal.

Today's Striders run was actually a little more than nine miles but, handily enough, the last water stop came in at exactly the distance we needed to complete to keep up with our training plan for the race. So, the two of us plus hardcore running chum and neighbour, who kicks both our arses at this running lark, caught a cab back to the start because we were all pretty much destroyed at that point. It was the furthest him indoors and I have ever run, and the furthest hardcore running chum has run since she came to Dubai, which I believe was at least five or six years ago.

I had to stop and walk for a few hundred metres twice, which considering the distance and the fact that it is still pretty hot, I am not too upset about. Apart from some pretty persistent blisters on my toes and rather achey legs and hips, and the need to crash out for a few hours when we had got home and breakfasted, there are so far no ill effects. Ask us how we are feeling tomorrow, however, and you might get a slightly different story...

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