Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race (DMRR) is special to me in many ways. Most importantly, it was the beginning of a new way of life for me. My debut race was the same race last year, about 14 months ago, just a few short weeks after I discovered the joy of running. I wrote about it extensively in a previous post here.

I have been focusing on going longer, for the past several months, raising the suffer score and trying to push the distance mark – not particularly interested in speed or short distances. Having said that, you can understand why DMRR 2016 was special for me.

Team Runners Maldives, warming up. Photo: Hajja

On it’s 10th anniversary this year, Dhiraagu Road Race 2016 was held in Hulhumale’, for the first time, with 3000 participants. On the good side, with wider tarmac roads, the race route will be a lot smoother and hassle free than Male’. On the bad side, sea transport between Male’ and Hulhumale’ is a bottleneck; getting that number of participants to the race location was challenging for Dhiraagu. Though acceptable arrangements were made, getting there and back was quite a hassle for many runners.

My intentions were simple; the goal was to complete the 10km race in Vibram Fivefingers, finish faster than last year (which was 45:17) and enjoy the run. Since I’ve only done around 50km in Vibrams/barefoot, my feet were not quite ready to go that bare. I even considered running fully barefoot, but didn’t go with the idea since I already had few unhealed blisters from previous weeks fun. I find it much easier on the body, to run bare. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, but when it comes to faster runs, speeding up and holding pace causes another set of problems to the underside of less trained foot which has been used to the soft cushioning on regular shoes.

I was a bit under the weather for the past couple of days. Luckily, when race day arrived I was feeling well and really excited about the run. While not forgetting to keep hydrating throughout the day, I also didn’t want to eat anything that might upset my stomach. I had cornflakes and peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, and the same for lunch with some orange juice.

One more lap to go. Photo: @Framed
One more lap to go. Photo: @Framed

The race start was amazing! Hulhumale’ Central Park was filled with hundreds of excited runners in red, waiting for the sound of the gun, to be let loose. It got delayed by several minutes because the race route was not cleared on time. Unlike last time, I was at the front of the pack just behind the first line of runners.

With the sound of the gun, I quickly sped up to my goal pace (4:15 min/km) and setting the stride rate to the beat of the music that I was listening to. 5K and 10K runners started together, and there were quite many guys dashing past me. As intriguing as it was to go after them, I decided to take it slow and easy – in the Vibrams, picking up speed on tarmac causes the bottom of my feet to burn – as I would have to pay for that later in the race.

Start line – uneasiness in the stomach.

The largest run in Maldives!
The largest run in Maldives! Photo: Dhiraagu
  • 1st Km – Quite fast!
  • 2nd km – Too many turns, and not a bit of shade.
  • 3rd km – Ball of my foot burning, had to keep pouring water in the vibrams every few kms.
  • 4th km – Shade here and there, jubilant crowd of supporters…uneasiness in the stomach became stronger.
  • 5th km – dashing past the finish line…not done yet, one more lap to go
  • 6th km – discomfort in the stomach became unbearable…maintaining pace became even harder.
  • 7th km – the merciless sun…trying hard to maintain relaxed posture, and pace dropped a bit.
  • 8th km – maintain speed through crowds of people walking/running slow was a challenge
  • 9th km – almost there…don’t slow down now!!
  • 10th km – Sped to the finish line, like running on fire, and rushed to find a washroom. What a relief!

The race was fun, the crowd were loud, the finish was good, and I did a personal best (43:36). We all did it for a good cause – to help protect children. It’s amazing that thousands of people came together to participate in an event that raised hundreds of thousands for charity. Looking forward to the next Dhiraagu Road Race.