Qatar Cyclists Center finalized their preparations to organize the fourth edition of the Al Adaid Desert Challenge, which takes place on Friday, 1st March 2019 in Khor Al Adaid Area with more than 500 participants competing for a share of a total prize money which exceeds 180,000 QAR. ProTV is the official Media Support Services Provider.
The Event is organized in association with the Qatar National Tourism Council and with support from the Qatar Cycling Federation and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. It includes a cycling race and a running race, in addition to two special races for kids.
The list of the official sponsors for this year’s edition includes Doha Insurance Company, Ooredoo, Doha Takaful, Chevrolet Qatar, Rasen Sport, Al Rayyan Water, Doha Bus, Garmin Lingawi, Royal Riviera Doha Hotel, Mawater Qatar, Qatar Red Crescent, Dama Sports Wear and St Regis Hotel.
The turnout this year exceeded all expectations and the organizers had to close registration two weeks before the event. The cycling race – open for mountain bikes and fat bikes – will see the biggest participation, with 300 cyclists (men and women) battling for the top places. They will need to cross seven sadunes over a 38.5 km route to reach the finish line. The cycling race at Al Adaid Desert Challenge is recognized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), world governing body of cycling, as an XCP-Class 3 Race.
It has established itself as one of the top off-road cycling races in the region, and by offering the highest prizes around the world in its category, the number of international cyclists has significantly increased this year, with more than 50 cyclists making the trip to Qatar from countries like Australia, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Iran and South Africa.
Meanwhile, more than 200 male and female participants will take part in the running race. They will have to follow a 26.7 km route to reach the finish line, crossing four sand dunes in the process.
Dr. Jamal Rashed Al Khanji, Managing Director of Al Adaid Desert Challenge commented: “We welcome all the participants to the fourth edition of Al Adaid Desert Challenge, and we are really happy with this incredible turnout from Qatar and all over the world. We are also proud with the Qatari participation, as we will see more than 90 cyclists and runners, men and women taking part in this year’s edition.”
“We are looking forward to organize another successful edition that will live up to the expectations of all the participants. I would like to thank all the sponsors and supporters of this event which put the spotlight on one of the most beautiful natural areas in the world. I wish everyone good luck in the races tomorrow,” he added.
A fierce battle is expected in the national category, with the cycling race being part of the national Mountain bikes Cross-Country Championship. Qatari Cyclists Marwan Al Jalham, who is leading the Mountain bike league table this season said:” This is my second participation in Al Adaid Desert Challenge. Last year I finished third, and I hope to record a better timing this year. it’s a unique event, and a tough challenge, because cycling in sands requires al lot of effort and patience, but it is still a one-of-a-kind experience and I advise everyone to try it”.
For the first time, three Qatari female cyclists will take part in the race, including Tala Abujbara, who is a member of the Qatar national rowing team, she said “I started practicing cycling two years ago as a kind of cross training, and I fell in love with this sport. Al Adaid Challenge is not an easy race, I took part in it two years ago, it’s very tough, I expect a long hard race, with some running involved, but I am so excited it is always nice, the weather is incredible, and it will be fun to see so many cyclists out together doing it”.
The challenge will start at Mawater Sand Dunes near Sealine, with the running race kicking off at 6:30 am Doha time, then it will be followed by the cycling race an hour later.
The finish line is at Doha Bus Deseret Adventure Camp which is also located near Sealine and it will provide an ideal spot for the participants to celebrate in a wonderful family atmosphere, where everyone will get a participation medal and a chance to snap a photo on the podium, then two races for kids will be organized, one for those aged 7-11 years old two which includes two laps around the camp, while the other is open for kids aged between 11 and 15 years old, and will be organized over a specially designed 5-km route.
After Friday prayers, it will be time for the medal ceremony where the top finishers will receive their medals, prizes and a special-designed cycling jersey from Dama Sports Wear. Furthermore, participants and spectators will have a chance to win other prizes from the official sponsors of the event.
Qatar Cyclists members have put the final touches on the route and the start and finish areas, and they have also coordinated with the sponsors who will provide support on the day of the event.
Rayyan water will provide drinking water to all those involved in the event, while Chevrolet Qatar, will provide the official cars of the event, Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Silverado, in addition to tire maintenance service through stations alongside the route. Rasen Sports will provide bike maintenance before the race and a number of prizes at the camp including a Cannondale Catalyst 3 Mountain Bike for one lucky spectator. Medical support will be provided by the Qatar Red Crescent.
Doha Bus will also provide logistical support, including the iconic monster bus, which will transport guests and media representatives from start to finish line across the sand dunes. Meanwhile, Garmin Lingawi will support the organizers with its GPS devices and will also giveaway prizes at the finish line camp.
Australian professional mountain cyclist, Mogran Pilley, who lives in Italy, is among the international cyclists who came to Qatar to compete in the challenge, he commented: “It is my second time in this event, last year I came fourth and hopefully this year I will be on the podium. It is a different race, a quite unique event, and it’s very tough specially you have to push very hard through the soft sand areas, but it is still a lot of fun and I enjoy it.”
In the women’s elite UCI MTB-C3 category, Finland’s Pia Sundstedt, who lives in Qatar with her family, will be the favourite to win her fourth title in a row, she commented “Every year, I look forward to this event, as I really like this race. Its format. Its setting. You get many things about Qatar in a very short time. The sand dunes, the desert, the sea, then the camp site where you can feel the Arab hospitality, everything there is nice.”
UCI Commissioner, Spook Groenewald, will be present during the race for monitoring all the orhganizng aspects. He commented: “from what I have seen in the past, it has been a good race and there is no need to worry, the sport has a good future in here, as you don’t need mountains to practice it, and the Dutch are a very good example for this, the amount of effort and resources Qatar is putting to support cycling is incredible and it is very nice to see that.”