No matter your ability, running a half marathon is a challenge for anyone. But for a group of three brothers and their friend, 13.1 miles doesn't sound very far, as they'll have already covered over 5,000 miles before taking their places on the start line of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run, having travelled all the way from Oman.
Salim, Saud and Hilal Alriyami and their friend Haitham Almoqbali have become regular runners, with a mission to take part in events in every country they visit, with Scotland featuring highly on their bucket lists.
Excited for their ‘guys only' trip they will take on the Great Aberdeen Run during their three night stay in the city, before spending another five days exploring the sights and sounds of other Scottish cities including Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Salim, who works in engineering, first took up running in 2014 when studying in America. Describing himself as ‘nerdy not healthy', when his weight crept up to the 15 stone mark he decided to overhaul his lifestyle and took up running, on a treadmill at first, thinking he would never be able to run even 5k.
After a 3½ stone weight loss, Salim cracked the 5k distance and has moved on to 10k's, half and full marathons, saying: “Never underestimate your greatness, and remember if it doesn't scare you, it will not change you.
“Running has brought a lot of joys and changed me to the person I am today, Confident, up to the challenge and calm in discomforting situations in life. Running is my inspiration to become a better person than yesterday because we do not just aspire to make a living, we aspire to make a change in this world. I use running as tool to free my mind from the stresses that we get from work and social life.”
Salim also credits running with strengthening his relationship with his brothers and friend. Working in the capital city, Muscat, the boys have plenty time to train together during the week before heading home for family time at the weekends, living two hours outside the city.
Training in very humid weather with temperatures up to 35-40 degrees, the Scottish weather may come as a bit of a shock to the boys. Though Hilal is hoping the colder temperature may spur him on to a new personal best on their sight-seeing tour of the city on a course that starts and finishes on Union Street and takes in numerous iconic locations and landmarks including the picturesque Brig o' Balgownie and beautiful Seaton Park before heading on through Old Aberdeen, past the University of Aberdeen, Pittodrie Stadium, the beautifully reinstated Marischal College and more.
Haitham, Hilal and Saud
Working as a translator, Hilal firmly believes running can heal the mind as well as the body, saying: “Running teaches me how to keep moving forward especially in the most painful moments. It's good for my self-esteem. Getting across the finish line and completing my run is a huge achievement.
“It can be a lot of fun and creates great memories, I get the chance to have time with friends and connect with fellow runners who share this passion and become one family.”
For Saud, an HSE Team Leader, being able to complete a half marathon in Scotland is a source of pride and whether he achieves a new personal best or not believes experiences in life are not to be regretted but for learning lessons.
As well as enjoying his time with his friends Haitham, an Arabic language editor, has also turned his life around. Struggling with his weight, his confidence and self-esteem was at an all-time low, but training with the brothers has helped him go from 16½ stone to just over 12 stone in the last year. Now he is enjoying life again and looking forward to taking on the half marathon.
Summing it up, rather poetically, Haitham says: “Pain is temporary, ?pride is forever.? From ?from the mountains of Oman ?to the paradise of Scotland ??.”
The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run takes place on Sunday 25 August and features both a 10k and half marathon. To find out more and enter click here