By Richard Slater
RIYADH — On a warm September evening, 130 runners completed a challenging two-lap course under the solar powered floodlights at Kapsarc compound, the club’s newest venue. The winding course, with two short ascents, is not a venue to set personal best times, nevertheless many runners demonstrated promising early season form. The 8km course was themed “green and white” to celebrate the Saudi national day.
In the female race, Carolyn Paajanen shot off at the start and went unchallenged throughout, beating the reigning club champion Claudine Roghi by just over one minute. This extended her unbeaten start to the season, which she will defend again on Oct. 7 over 10km. In third place was Alanoud Ali, which meant that the female’s 1-2-3 from the inaugural race was replicated at the second race.
Both Paajanen and Roghi placed in the top 15 percent of overall finishers and look to have the ability to finish even higher once the longer races get underway. Just off the podium, Nikki Layne and Mia McDowell finished in a dead heat to seal joint fourth.
In the male race, the familiar figure of Mo Foustok made his season debut and proved too fast for all-comers. His closest rivals, as on several occasions last season, were Hamad Ozaybi and Gareth Gallagher. Ozaybi matched Foustok stride for stride throughout the first 5km. He was, howeve, beset by stomach cramps toward the latter stages and Foustok maintained his high tempo to seal the win in an excellent time of 28:53. Gallagher, who recently represented Ireland in an international duathlon, showed his outstanding stamina in finishing third, as he had already completed and won a triathlon club race earlier in the day.
Race 1 winner Sam Richards was pushed down to fifth place, with David Dubois performing well on debut to finish fourth.
The club thanked Carrefour Tala Mall for provision of fruit and water for the runners, as well as Kapsarc for the excellent venue and barbecue.
Male race: 1. Mo Foustok (KSA) 28:53, 2. Hamad Ozaybi (KSA) 30:43, 3. Gareth Gallagher (IRE) 30:52.
Female race: 1. Carolyn Paajanen (FIN) 37:08, 2. Claudine Roghi (FRA/NZ) 38:18, 3. Alanoud Ali (KSA) 42:22.