Posted on November 12, 2016

Doha impresses yet again with another major world event

Aspire Zone Foundation, in partnership with the Qatar Athletics Federation, and the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), has successfully announced the commencement of the second edition of the IAU 50km World Championship at a world-class opening ceremony, presented with a Qatari twist. The opening ceremony of the IAU 50km World Championship was held Thursday evening, and was attended by esteemed ambassadors, in addition to high-level delegates from sports federations participating in the tournament.

The Opening Ceremony featured a Parade of Nations involving the athletes taking part at the IAU 50Km World Championship, followed by a rendition of Qatar’s National Anthem and opening remarks delivered by Ms. Hillary Walker, General Secretary of the IAU, Mr. Nadeem Khan, IAU Director of Communications, and Mr. Abdullah Nasser Al Naimi, Director General of Aspire Logistics, member organisation of Aspire Zone Foundation, announcing the commencement of the tournament. The ceremony was concluded with a showcase of a Qatari folklore dance, “Al Ardah”.

In his opening speech, Mr. Abdullah Nasser Al Naimi, Director General of Aspire Logistics, welcomed ultrarunners participating at the IAU 50Km World Championship to Doha, the global sports capital. He also extend his gratitude to the IAU for entrusting Aspire Zone with the responsibility to organise this major global sporting event. “Our joint efforts have produced considerable success in hosting this Championship and garnered positive reactions from participants and spectators alike. Throughout the Championship, we will make extensive use of our world-class facilities and draw on the full capabilities of our team to ensure another huge success,” Al Naimi said.

Adding, “As well as the elite athletes, members of the local community will have the opportunity to compete in a 6:50 km run as part of a local tournament that will take place on the sidelines of the main event. The unique combination of the IAU 50Km World Championship and Aspire International 6.50 race sets this year’s tournament apart from previous years. Aspire Zone Foundation is running both events simultaneously in order to provide enthusiastic amateur runners of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to take part alongside some of the world’s best ultrarunners.”

On the other hand, Mr. Nadeem Khan, IAU Director of Communications, delivered discussing the IAU and its rich history for hosting major tournaments, and praised Aspire’s facilities, saying: “The field and start line here in Aspire is one of the best we’ve ever had. Aspire Zone was given the opportunity to hold the IAU 50Km World Championship for three consecutive years due to four main components: Infrastructure, organisation, experience and the will to combine all these together. The results from the site visits were exemplary, resulting in us rewarding Aspire a multi-year partnership with the IAU.”

Impressive participation at the IAU 2 [].jpg

Meanwhile, Hilary Walker, General Secretary at the International Association of Ultrarunners, said: “It is a great pleasure for the IAU team to be back here in Aspire today. We may have a small team here on sight, but we are very much united with our colleagues who couldn’t be with us today. The compact nature of our team is also an indication of the confidence that we have developed with our friends and colleagues at Aspire, so that we can put on a worthy competition for our athletes. Our joined efforts to host a long-distance tournament to the wider range of athletes stems from an elite marathon tradition, as is evidenced by those athletes here today.”

Adding, “Aspire Zone Foundation is unique in its facilities, as we can see sitting here in this room. It brings expertise to facilitate sport, not only here in Doha but globally, as can be seen by the international competition that it holds and will be holding in the future. These developments can be seen all around us. We have also benefitted from visiting Aspetar, a centre of excellence to sport, where we have learned from the expertise and knowledge available for our ultrarunners.” “We are very grateful to Aspire for its efforts at hosting this tournament,” Ms. Walker concluded.

Teams from 20 nations have arrived to Doha to participate in this major world event, from countries including: Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, Uruguay, United States of America, and Zimbabwe. The IAU 50 km World Championship 2016 joins a long list of tournaments and events delivered successfully by Aspire Zone Foundation in recent years. Together these provide clear evidence of the organisation’s logistical capabilities and reputation for managing major sporting events to the highest international standards.

Exclusive media gathering featuring top runners

Prior to the opening ceremony, Aspire Zone Foundation organised a media briefing with local and international media at the Movenpick Hotel Al Aziziyah Doha. During which, athletes discussed their preparations for such long-distance competitions that stretch the limits of human endurance. Representatives from Aspire Zone Foundation, Qatar Athletics Federation, International Association of Ultrarunners and the Qatar Police Sports Association, in addition to a number of top ultrarunners taking part in this year’s championship, were present at the briefing.

Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Abdullah Al Khater, Manager of Events at Aspire Zone Foundation said: ““The positive reactions obtained from last year’s IAU 50km World Championship has attracted a great number of participants this year. Over 74 ultrarunners from 20 countries have registered to take part in the WC. Last year’s winners have flown in to Doha to join us again this year, in addition to other new members. Due to the increasing diversity and strength of the competing teams, we hope to witness impressive record-breaking achievements. We are confident that this year will turn out to be a great success.”

Adding, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Qatar Athletic Federation, our organising partners, and the Qatar Police Association for their participation at Aspire International 6:50 Race. We are proud to say that we have over 200 participants, with 7 Qatari teams, competing tomorrow at the race”. While, Mr. Nasser Abdullah Al Hajri, Director of PR and Communications at Aspire Zone Foundation, revealed that Aspire Zone Foundation, the International Association of Ultrarunners and the Qatar Athletics Federation are potentially aiming towards extending their existing partnership agreement for years ahead. Noting that Aspire Zone Foundation will be hosting its third and final IAU 50Km World Championship next year.

According to Al Hajri, Aspire Zone Foundation has been successful in attracting an increasing number of Qatari participation this year for the Aspire International 6.50 race, in line with the foundation’s objectives to promote sports as an active and healthy lifestyle among members of the local community. “We’re proud to have hosted this tournament in Doha for the second year. This is a great chance for the foundation to showcase Qatar’s logistical capabilities in hosting major international events, supported by its state-of-the-art sporting facilitiesm” Nasser Al Hajri said.

Impressive participation at the IAU 3 [].jpg

Adding that “Aspire Zone Foundation, represented by its employees, has also been keen to be part of this international celebration, in addition to other local entities such as the Qatar Police Sports Association. The increasing participation of local community is evidence of Qatar’s increasing awareness on the importance of physical activity.” Speaking about their remarkable participation at the Aspire International 6.50 Race, “Mr. Abdullah Darwish, representative of the Qatar Police Sports Association, said: “We are thrilled to be part of Aspire International 6.50 Race. Seven teams from the Ministry of Interior have registered for the race relay, with 35 runners in total, in addition to 24 runner competing in the individual category.

“The [Qatar Police Sports] Association is always keen to take part in Marathon tournaments, so this race is a great opportunity. This year’s competition is a great fit for our officers at MOI, and we’re excited to compete in the same race course alongside the IAU 50km ultrarunners.”

Quotes from top Ultrarunners at the Media Briefing

Neils Bubel, Germany

“At this time of the year in Doha it’s not difficult to run at 26-27 degrees, and I will give my best in the competition. My first marathon was in 2005, it was a start to the training. It was then a hobby just similar to the people running at Aspire Park. Then I wanted to be faster and I started my training, and may be in one year or two I would run again in Berlin marathons”.

Rebeca Louise Hilland, Great Britain

“This is my first time to participate in the IAU 50KM World Championship. And I am looking forward for the challenge. I have been training on the roads back home and participated in few competitions.”

“Everyone has been welcoming here and the hospitality has been fantastic. We have been training around the Aspire grounds and it is really well set-up and, and well lit-up. Sports facilities here are brilliant and really accessible, something for everyone, and definitely any one coming to Qatar should make a visit to Aspire Zone”.

Maria Vrajic, Croatia

 “I have been practicing this sport for more than 20 years, and when I was very young I used to run shorter distances, but now I started to run marathons. My personal best timing scored so far is 2 hrs 40 mins in Treviso, Italy, and I was in Rio Olympics”.

“I participated in the 1st edition of the IAU 50KM WC and came in second place, our team also came first in team category, and we hope we defend the title tomorrow”.

Caroline Boller, USA

I’m very excited to be part of this championship. I’ve been preparing for it for weeks and months, and I hope I go out there and show off my best self and have a good race. I feel that if my day goes as planned, then I have a good chance at winning this year’s race. I’m thrilled to be in Doha for the first time, I’ve never travelled to the Middle East before. It’s a beautiful country, and the organisers have done an outstanding job.”