From concerts to motorsports, art to performance, Saudi Arabia’s historic Al-Ula has been hosting a number of landmark events over the past two years, most recently adding another great reason for visitors from the region and beyond to flock to the UNESCO World Heritage Site: it has now brought the French running initiative EcoTrail to its mesmerizing terrain.
This week, over 260 athletes from the United States, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Oman, Jordan, and many other nations descended on Saudi Arabia to take part in the eco-friendly, multi-track running race, which was part of various activities in the second season of Al Ula’s Winter at Tantora festival.
Runners got the chance to explore Al Ula’s stunning terrain, competing in 83km, 45km and 10km distances through the region majestic sandstone mountains and canyons. According to Saudi Gazette, 139 contestants participated in the 10-km course. The competition saw Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali coming in in first place, Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin in second, and Saudi runner Meshari Almuhanna in third.
In the women's category, American runner Meredith Byrne came in first, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif second, and British runner Maureen McConnell third. Ninety athletes participated in the 45-km race, and the longest race, the 83-km, saw 17 of 37 athletes make it to the finish line.
An international race that takes part in many countries across the globe, EcoTrail was founded in Paris in 2008 to promote and organize eco-friendly trail running races while highlighting local heritage. An example is participants bringing their own drinking system because cups are forbidden in the race. Organizers also offer runners their own little pocket kit for collecting trash.