Cairo, Egypt was the location for the latest destination conquered on my quest to run the world. Egypt’s capital and the largest city in the Arab world played host to the newly established Pyramids Half Marathon and marked country # 42 of #MoniqueRuns50!
To sum up the Pyramids Half Marathon in 3 words…location, location, location. Did I mention location? I’ve run lots of races in lots of places and can honestly say that none are probably as epic as a “race through history” with the Great Pyramid of Giza – the oldest and last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – as a backdrop.
The Pyramids Half Marathon, in its 2nd year, is still a pretty small event with 4200 people representing nearly 80 nationalities participating in several events: 6K, 10K and a half marathon.
Participants were expected to arrive at the start line zone between 6 and 7:30 am, with all races beginning at 8 am. Each participant is allotted 2 spectator bracelets, and in addition to the bracelets, spectators were required to purchase tickets and enter the Pyramids Complex as regular visitors (approximately 1.25 USD for Egyptian nationals and 5 – 10 USD for foreigners). Spectators are not allowed along the course, but with the bracelets were admitted in the finish line zone.
The course was on paved pathways and entirely within the Pyramids Complex, which comprises the three main pyramids: Khufu, Kafre, and Menkaure. Each distance had a simple out and back route with great views of the Pyramids, though the half-marathon participants got the best views of all three. The course included a few inclines, with one major one especially for the 10K and half marathon runners. As I mentioned, spectators were not allowed on the course, but the runners were pretty good about hyping each other up, not to mention the race officials and other volunteers. There were aid stations about every 2.5 kilometers with water bottles, sports drinks, Red Bull Energy Shots, and bananas and dates.
Winter weather in Egypt is typically cool in the early morning and warming up late morning as the fog burns off and the sun comes out. And that is exactly what I experienced the day of the race. In general, I thought the weather was quite good for running. I wore arm sleeves, which were perfect for that 7 am arrival at the start zone, however, I had rolled them down before reaching the 5km mark. I wore a headband and sunglasses, though I wish I’d worn a hat or visor to shade myself against the warm sun that peaked out often during the race.
I was impressed with how well organized the Pyramids Half Marathon was, especially considering it’s a relatively new event. Everything from pacers for the 10K and half marathon to plenty of aid stations and porta-potties along the route made the experience better for the participants.
The race swag bag was pretty nice and included an official race t-shirt, the bag itself and the previously mentioned spectator bracelets. The race organization also partnered with Uber to offer participants a 50% discount on the day of the race.
As great as all of the previously mentioned stuff is, the only thing I really need to say is…you run around the FREAKIN’ PYRAMIDS!!
HOW TO REGISTER
If you’re interested in participating in the Pyramids Half Marathon in the future, get more information on the event and how to register on the website.