Copied from the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge Website
“All good things must come to an end but there’s no reason why you can’t stretch out the proceedings a little and make the most of it while it lasts, so we’ve made the race even longer this year, to give you more challenges, more excitement… and loads more vitamin D.
Abu Dhabi is a country in full flower – the kind of place that requires a rewrite of the travel guides on a weekly basis. New buildings, resplendent experiments juxtaposing futuristic design with cutting-edge material’s science, sweeping cultural projects, luxury resorts and wildlife reserves all combine with the timeless hospitality of the Bedouin tribe to compose one of the world’s most enticing tourist destinations. With all that available, we could hardly pass up the chance make the race the longest yet, giving you the opportunity to race more, see more and, of course, achieve more.
This year’s race includes all those familiar and favourite aspects of the last 2 plus a few tweaks based on your fascinating feedback. On 4th December, Abu Dhabi City, with its skyline of tall, modern buildings interspersed with delicate minarets and elegant seafront promenades will repeat its role as urban showcase for the event by hosting the opening act: a triathlon-style opener that involves 34km of running, cycling, sea kayaking and, for the first time, swimming in the calm waters around the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Not much of a breather later the Arabian Gulf, an essential in the race itinerary with its picturesque desert islands and pristine waters, is an ideal playground for the keen kayaker and an ideal choice for backdrop to the next stage.
In contrast to previous itineraries, when the teams would paddle west of Abu Dhabi and confront vast expanses of open water, this demanding 110km sea-kayaking leg that will take you east around the coast and past the 27 square mile Saadiyat Island, currently in the process of becoming Abu Dhabi’s cultural and recreational haven. This international tourist destination in the making will eventually boast 5-star resorts, immaculate sandy beaches, lagoons, a wildlife reserve and the only seaside golf course in the region. A vibrant cultural district, housing some of the Middle East’s most audacious architectural gems and extensive art collections, is also under construction. An island bivouac among the lush mangroves will give you time to dry your socks, get some sleep and prepare for the another day’s racing on the crystal waters.
After a three hour transfer to the Liwa Desert, via the Liwa Oasis, you are only one authentic Bedouin bivouac away from a very close up and personal rub with the Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), the world’s largest expanse of unbroken sand, equivalent in size to France, Holland and Belgium combined. The dunes of red and gold are so tall that they attract visitors from around the globe with only one objective in mind: get to the top. A 2-day struggle across 120km of dramatic and uncompromising desert will confront you with one of the most challenging stages of the race. You will need to manage water, effort and itinerary choice to have any chance of “beating” the desert. As if that wasn’t enough, this is the home of the legendary “shouting sands” (Za’eeq al Raml), a phenomenon that local legends often describe as evil spirits trying to disorient travellers and draw them deeper into peril… and you thought that role belonged to your teammates A trusty compass and reliable map should keep you safe from any interfering djinn but watch out for the early morning fog which, if last year is anything to go by, can really stir things up.
On the 5th day, you will take to the saddle to cover a punishing 95km biking stage. Split into 2 legs, the first 40km section, from the heart of the Liwa desert to Hamim, includes a cameo appearance for the luxury, five-star Qasr Al Sarab desert resort,due to opens its doors to guests in October 2009. You won’t get as far as checking in at this unique, authentic Arabian retreat but a quick detour through the palm-shaded grounds should give you a feel for the place. The 54 remaining kilometres will take you from Hamim all the way to the outskirts of the Oasis city of Al Ain. Otherwise known as the “Garden City of the Gulf”, strict planning rules, limiting the height of new buildings, lends an intimacy to the city and an abundance of pleasant parks, age-old markets and cultural attractions, including the recently inauguratedZayed National Museum, which houses temporary and permanent collections illustrating the life and values of the United Arab Emirates’ illustrious founder, gives it, and the delightfully leafy streets, a distinctly traditional Arabian atmosphere.
After a night camped in a cool canyon to the east of the Jebel Hafeet range, the all important final day starts with a novel, night-orienteering section followed by a trek up the jagged slopes of the mountain range which, at 1,340m, dominates the surrounding area and is one of the UAE’s highest peaks. A technically demandingrope works section will give you a stunning view across the fertile plains studded with date farms that reach the outskirts of Al Ain. From the top of what is one of the UAE’s highest mountains, you will careen 37km down into the city centre of Al Ainalong roads closed expressly for the race. The final 4km will be on foot, with teams sprinting through the popular Central Gardens, where a large cosmopolitan crowd comes at weekends to picnic and play, to the finish line at the Jahili Fort, one of the country’s most important historical monuments and the largest castle in Al Ain. You’ll most certainly be exhausted but also a lot wiser… In a race renowned for the quality of its course set in a country celebrated for its hospitality and cultural heritage, longer can only mean better.”