The third edition of Al Adaid Desert Challenge concluded on Friday, with
more than 350 runners and cyclists taking part in the grueling contest at
Sealine area, south-east of Qatar.
The UCI MTB Class-3 event, organized by Qatar Cyclists Center in
cooperation with Qatar Tourism Authority, is the toughest off-road
mountain bike race in the region, and this year a running race was
added to its programme.
A new more-challenging 38.5 km cycling route, that required
overcoming seven sand dunes, did not stop Dutch legend Erik Dekker
from defending his title in the Elite category. The former Olympic-
medalist, finished the race in 1:24:55 H.
In fact, the top three positions did not see any changes from last year,
but the battle for the title was more exciting, as New Zealand’s Roman
Van Uden finished second just 32 seconds behind the winner. Frederic
Gombert of France came third with a time of 1:25:59 H.
In the Women’s UCI Elite category, Finland’s Pia Sundstedt easily won
her third straight title, finishing the race in an hour and 47 minutes, with
Sophie Giovane of France coming second.
Dr. Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Managing Director of Al Adaid Desert
Challenge, commented “The success of the 2018 Al Adaid Desert
challenge exceeded all expectations, I would like to thank all our
sponsors, partners and supporters, without them it wouldn’t have been
possible to organize this amazing event”.
“More than 350 participants painted a wonderful picture about Qatar
and the showed how the country’s community are enthusiastic about
sport. They also helped to shed light on one of the most amazing
natural wonders in the world. Congratulations to all the winners and all
the participants. We promise to do our best to make the next edition of
Al Adaid Desert Challenge another remarkable success”.
More than 60 Qataris participated in this year’s challenge, and the
cycling race also counted as the Qatar National MTB Cross Country
Championship. Local favorite Fawaz Al Hichan, won the title, after
crossing the finish line in 1:55:06 H.
Dr. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, President of Qatar Cyclists Center, won
second place in the same race, he commented “It was a thrilling
experience, and the new route, in addition to the battle for Qatar
Champion title added a lot of excitement to the event. The performance
of Qatar Cyclists members exceeded all expectations, and the
experience they gained through competing against international riders is
invaluable. We have seen people from all ages, genders and
nationalities taking part in Al Adaid Desert Challenge today, it shows the
huge role this event plays in promoting cycling in Qatar, everyone
enjoyed being active, trying a new challenge and also enjoying the
beauty of Qatar’s nature”.
Another impressive result for local riders came in the Fatbike Category,
as Qatar’s Mubarak Al Ajji won first place with a time of 2:08:59 H.
Experienced cross-country runner Andrew Jones of Great Britain won
the first edition of the running race completing a distance of 26.7 km,
that included four sand dunes, in a time of 1:49:01 H, while his
compatriot Caroline Drew won the women’s title, crossing the finish line
after 2:25:21 H.
Former Samla Race Champion, Ali Al Hajri, registered the best result
for Qataris in the running race, finishing 8 th overall, with a time of
Dr. Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari, Qatar Cycling and Triathlon
Federation President, commented “We are really happy with what the
participants achieved this year, despite the more challenging route
compared to last year.”
“Congratulations to all the winners. We are proud with the record
number of Qatari participants taking part in the event. We have
witnessed fierce competition between them for the title of the first Qatar
National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championship”, he added.
This year’s event required extra efforts from the organizers due to the
record number of participants, the new running competition and the new
route. They did well to mark and secure the participants’ route, while
also providing a parallel route used by the spectators, event sponsors,
The festive atmosphere at the finish area in Doha Bus Desert
Adventures Camp was the perfect end scene to this remarkable event,
as riders and runners, from more than 45 different countries, took a
deserved break to replenish their energy and celebrate their triumphs
with colleagues, friends and family members, ahead of the prize-giving
A Kids Race was also organized at Doha Bus Camp and added to the
excitement of the event.
Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing & Promotion Officer at QTA,
commented, “We are very pleased to see the significant growth Al
Adaid Desert Challenge has witnessed compared last year. This growth
is not only testament to the potential that exists within our locally-
developed sports events, but also to adventure sport events as one of
the fastest- “QTA’s support for the Challenge comes as part of our
strategy to develop and grow local sports events. We look forward to
welcoming more international visitors to challenge themselves against
the backdrop of Qatar’s unique desert and sea landscape next year.”
A total of 150,000 Qatari Riyals in prize money were awarded to the top
finishers in each category, in addition to special prizes from Garmin, an
official partner of the event. The prize giving ceremony concluded
another successful community cycling event from Qatar Cyclists and a
memorable day for all the participants.
Jassim Ali A. Al Moftah, Chief Executive Officer of Doha Insurance
Group, Insurance Partner of Al Adaid Desert Challenge, commented,
“We have seen some amazing scenes today, the success of the 2018
Al Adaid Desert Challenge exceeded all expectations, we are proud to
be the insurance partner of this special event that helps in developing
tourism and encourages community to be more active and take on new
sports. Pioneering Spirit is our slogan at Doha Insurance Group, and
Qatar proved today once again that it is the pioneering country when it
comes to organizing a world class sports event, the only one of its kind
in this region”.
Manar Khalifa Al Muraikhi, Director PR and Corporate Communications
at Ooredoo, the event’s Gold Sponsor, commented “At Ooredoo we are
always keen on supporting sporting events and activities. We are proud
to be sponsoring Al Adaid Desert Challenge, which was a real test of
strength, stamina and determination of all participants again this year.
We believe that supporting and promoting an event like Al Adaid Desert
Challenge is encouraging Qatar’s future generations of athletes and
also members of the community to take on new kind of sports and be
The official event partners of Al Adaid Desert Challenge this year also
included Rayyan Mineral Water Company, GMC, Garmin, Qatar Red
Crescent and Doha Bus, while the official event supporters were Rasen
Adventure Shop, Mawater, Carbon Wheels and Royal Riviera Hotel.