Qatar East to West Ultra Marathon 90km
Members Race Review

Mayane Halleux
Race: Qatar East to West Ultra Run 90km

Location: Doha, Qatar

Race departed from the Sheraton Park at 5 am & finished at Dukhan Beach – 8:30 pm cut off

Date: Friday, December 6th, 2019

Triathlon Experience: 

I started running about 10 years ago – small distances, more for fitness than for pleasure. As the years passed I increased my distances, worked on my speed and started really enjoying running. I did a few races to help motivate my progression but I had never ran a marathon or more then 21km in my life before this challenge.

Rationale for Race:

I would categorize Qatar East to West as a challenge rather than a race. At least that is how I viewed it and that was my mindset during the event. I believe most of the runners were not out to beat each other to the finish line. The majority of us were there to live an experience with the goal of reaching the finish line at some point.

Many of the reasons I chose to participate in this event are personal and have to do with pushing my perceived limits. I was amazed that something like this was being organized here in Qatar and I felt it was an opportunity for me to go on a journey with myself and to experience something I had never dreamed I would do without having to travel very far.

The course itself was nothing spectacular – highways, lots of straight, never-ending roads, and lots of desert. However, the road you run with yourself and the bonds you create with other runners is unforgettable.

Travel to the Race:

My super coach offered to drive me to the race in order to not have to deal with parking at the Sheraton or having to pick up my car after the event. I highly recommend getting someone to drop you off in the morning that way you can focus solely on what you are there to do. There were a few road closures due to the race but as it was early morning with very little traffic, getting to the Sheraton was relatively easy.


Registration was fast and efficient with a lot of Doha Triclub volunteers helping out. There were excitement and tension in the air and so many more people than I had expected.

Race Gear:

My coach and I spent a lot of time preparing my race gear, hydration, and food plan before the race. I was also lucky enough to get a great debrief by a previous Qatar East to West runner on the do’s and dont’s and on what to expect during the race.

The one thing I could have not finished the race without is a support vehicle following me every step of the way. My coach followed me with all my food and gear for the first half of the run and then my family took over. Having support was not only a great boost to my morale but it also allowed me to not panic when things got tough. My coach literally had a Decathlon store in his pick-up: a folding chair for me to rest on, water and a hose to cool me off, a yoga mat and foam roller to help soothe my muscles, a full first aid kit and every snack you could ever crave.

I was very happy to have planned to switch running shoes and change my socks halfway into the run. It made me feel like I was starting fresh. For hydration, I had purchased a hydration backpack and practiced running with it before the race. However, my coach suggested I start the race wearing a hydration belt with 2 water bottles. This helped me save my energy and allowed me to monitor my intake. After the first 12km I put on the hydration backpack but immediately found it so heavy. I knew I couldn’t continue with this weight on my back so I decided to refill more often (thanks to my support crew) and use the hydration belt.

To help keep my mind off the eventual pain of the run, I had prepared an extensive playlist and had downloaded several podcasts and the book “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. I was surprised that I actually ended up barely using my preplanned entertainment as the harder the running got the more I wanted to be in silence and in a peaceful place just with myself.


Getting to the start line

After having not slept well for several days before the race, I actually slept very well on the eve of the event. I woke at 3 am so that I could have breakfast (oats with honey) and digest before starting to run.

The first leg of the race took us through downtown Doha with the night lights still shining. As I made my way towards Education City a girl and I started smiling at each other. We talked a bit, encouraged each other, and paced each other until we arrived at the first aid station.

Aid Station 1: QNCC 11.9km

I had completed the first 11.9km and I was high on adrenaline. I was eager to just keep going so I stayed there only long enough to use the toilets.

Aid Station 2: Al Shahaniya Desert Park 22.5km

I arrived at the aid station ready for a break but still in very good spirits. My coach, his folding chair, and his cold water hose were waiting for me. I sat down for just a few minutes, refilled my bottles, had a few laughs, visited the toilet, ate a bit, and was off again.

Aid Station 3: Before Nasranya Exit 14.5km

I took a good 20-minute break at this aid station as I was starting to feel a drop in energy. I took the time to refresh myself by changing my t-shirt, socks, and shoes – this almost made me feel like I was starting a new race! I ate real food (peanut butter and honey sandwich, some boiled potatoes, and egg) and before long I was off again.

Aid Station 4: Before Al Uwaynah Exit 14.2km

Getting to this station was tough due to the rising heat and the road seemed to be never-ending. My legs were definitely tired at this point and sitting down to rest was risky as getting up again was a struggle. I kept fueling and hydrating despite not being hungry or thirsty. Forcing myself and having my support crew on my back constantly demanding that I drink and eat is one of the reasons why I think I actually made it to the finish line.
May 4

Aid Station 5: After Cuban Hospital 14km

I don’t think that I would have made it to this aid station if a friend had not surprised me with her special and unforgettable visit. Before she arrived, I was starting to slip into that dark place where the pain you feel seems unbearable, where the goal you have set seems unattainable and where everyone around you just annoys you to death! Her presence turned all of that around. While we ran, we talked and laughed and before I knew it I had reached the last aid station before my final run to the finish line.

Finish Line: Dukhan Beach 12.6km

With 8km to go, I stopped and declared to my family that I could not possibly take one more step. My legs just could not go any further. My family suggested I walk but what they didn’t understand is that walking hurt even more than running or shuffling which is what I had been doing for the last 10km. They pushed me to continue and I got angry with them saying they could not imagine the pain I was feeling. Finally, my son told me to get up out of the folding chair and to just go a little further. He started shuffling with me and together we went through all the motivational quotes I had posted on my kitchen walls to help my mind prepare for this challenge. He stayed by my side and ran with me all the way until the finish.

When I crossed the finish line a surge of incredible energy went through me and all of my pain disappeared. I jumped up and down elated yet in disbelief that I had just spent that last 13 hours and 23 minutes running 90km across Qatar.

In the finisher's tent everybody was just so proud of everybody! The couches were perfect to lie down on and the vibe was a mix between elation and exhaustion.
May 5

Evaluation of Race Organisation

I am truly grateful for the awesome organizers of this event. They did an amazing job of communicating all the necessary details and held an informative race debrief a few days before the event. During the run, several of the organizers spent time driving the route and proposing water, gels, or snacks to the runners and making sure everyone was doing ok. The aid stations were comfortable considering that most of them were in the middle of nowhere and most had toilets.


After the race my husband drove me home and I immediately got into a warm bath. I tried to eat but sleep took over and I went to bed. It took a few days for my legs to recover. Stairs were torture and I had an insatiable appetite. I highly recommend NOT volunteering to animate a stand at your child’s school international day 48 hours after the race…I was limping and moaning like an old woman.

Recommendations/Lessons Learned

If you are looking to challenge yourself, push your limits, or experience a personal journey that will touch your soul, I highly recommend this ultra run. The conversations you will have with yourself and with others will be deep and the pain you will feel will be intense but that feeling when you cross the finish line of having defied all odds will stay with you forever.

May 6