By Richard Slater
RIYADH – Gareth Gallagher and Dobrawa Skupniewicz pulled off famous victories at the Subway Riyadh Half Marathon last Friday, in what was the RRR largest ever half marathon race in terms of full course finishers.
Dirab Golf Course played host to the fantastic event, which saw runners from over 30 countries competing for the titles of Riyadh’s fastest men and women.
Gareth Gallagher managed to partially alleviate the disappointment of his disqualification at the Middle East Half Ironman Championships the previous week, winning by a 4-minute margin from his nearest rival David Dubois.
In a race that was full of drama from start to finish, the lead pack of runners neglected to turn at the second water table, and instead ran off course and into the desert. David Hobbs and Rod Woodward benefitted from their oversight by turning in the correct place and thus seized control of the race.
However Gallagher, Dubois, Schneider and co were not to be denied easily, and fought back to overtake the unexpected leaders and re-establish their dominance of the race during the course of the second lap.
Gallagher ran a lightning fast second lap (42:31) to clinch victory, with departing runner David Dubois finishing a proud second in his final race in Riyadh. Behind them, the rangy figure of Thomas Schneider ran superbly to claim the final podium place, narrowly edging out the Scot David Ferry.
In the female race, newcomer Dobrawa Skupniewicz pulled off an impressive victory, beating her nearest rival Carolyn Paajanen by exactly 10 minutes.
The margin of victory was exaggerated somewhat as Paajanen followed the lead pack off course during the first lap, however Skupniewicz’s performance was the second fastest female half marathon time witnessed in the last 5 years, and thus should not be understated. Shauna Thornton won out in a hard fought battle with Clementine Thil to take third spot – another excellent performance from a first-timer.
The RRR would like to thank Subway for its generous sponsorship of the event, as well as Dirab Golf Course for the use of its venue.
Male race: Gareth Gallagher (IRE) 1:35:17, David Dubois (FRA) 1:39:47, Thomas Schneider (GER) 1:39:51.
Female race: 1. Dobrawa Skupniewicz (POL) 1:40:46, 2. Carolyn Paajanen (FIN) 1:50:46, 3. Shauna Thornton (USA) 1:52:26.