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Facing Africa Noma
Oman Desert Marathon - runners on dunes
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Oman Desert Marathon 2016 dates:-      4th to 12th Nov 2016.

Entry fee about £ 845 + airfare about £ 450 from the UK

“Probably the most uncompromising and merciless footrace on the planet”

One of the ultimate desert races on earth, this 165 km run in 6 self-sufficient stages tracks the ancient caravan routes through the Arabian Desert of Oman. The race is in its 4th year and has proven to be an incredibly well organised event with runners praising the organisation for its professionalism and care for the competitors.

Runners must be 100% self sufficient in terms of carrying all food, clothing and equipment at all stages of the race with the exception of water which is provided at regular checkpoints. This race is as much about planning as it is about fitness and movement. Carrying stocks for 5 days in the desert is a challenge which requires serious forethought and skill. This is a true desert expedition!

The location in the desert where the Oman Desert Marathon unfolds is one of the most beautiful desert areas on the planet. Untouched, clean and full of wonder.

Stages are: Day 1 – 21 km, Day 2 – 22 km, Day 3 – 25 km, Day 4 – 27 km, Day 5 – 40 km and Day 6 – 30 km. Terrain is varied including sand (both loose and packed), Hamada (packed flat desert) and narrow tracks . There is a night stage which is for many of the runners the highlight of the experience offering a totally different perspective on desert existence.

Safety is paramount on this race and every effort is made to allow the runners total freedom and solitude whilst competing,  but the security of the runners is strategically placed out of sight and are never far away, offering easy and quick access to any runner in need of medical assistance. A medic is at every compulsory checkpoint set out every 10 km.

The camp itself is very well designed and managed offering good desert accommodation and living space for runners.

Running the “Oman Desert Marathon” for FACING AFRICA

We have always maintained that anyone mad enough to trash themselves running 165 km in the Arabian Desert should also consider some form of benefit for a good cause. Over the years that we have been involved in desert marathons, over £ 1.5 million has been raised for Facing Africa alone. We live in a world where millions of people suffer through extreme poverty and malnutrition which results in this terrible disease “noma”.

At Facing Africa we change the lives of countless victims of what can only be described as a terrifying disease with unimaginable pain and discomfort and social outcast. Where some of the weakest humans on the planet struggle from day to day just to survive the hardships of sub-Saharan countries.

By running in aid of Facing Africa, you will be raising money to enable us to continue reconstructing and rebuilding the faces of children and adult survivors of this horrifying, flesh eating disease.

The work we do is very visual and easy for people to understand when they see the examples of “before and after” images of our patients. Your endurance and the generosity of your sponsors will not go unforgotten among the many “noma” sufferers that you will be raising money for.

Registration – Price

The total race entry fee is €1,200 – about £ 845  (a deposit of € 500 – about £ 350 – is payable at time of registration). Flights to Oman are not included – approximate fare from London for Nov 2016 will be about £ 450.

Payments can of course be made in any currency (GB£, US$, € etc) and will be adjusted 4 weeks before the start of the race.

Q & A

Q – How do I know what the pace is like ?

A – Well, most people do this “exceptional” race just to finish it, but just for the record, the winner of the ODM 2016 completed in 13 hours and 19 minutes whereas the last person to cross the line took 41 hours and 32 minutes – a difference of almost 28 hours and 13 minutes! You just follow your own pace.

Q – Where do I get all the items and kit needed for the race ?

A – You can’t do much better than starting with . Please note that you will be well advised to get good gaiters and stitch them on to your trainers (don’t do this without googling it first, and preferably getting some experts like the people at to do it for you). Sand in your shoes is a pain, both literally and figuratively.

Q – Do I need a visa to enter Oman ?

A – British, American, Canadian and EU passport holders do not need to get visas in advance. You will be able to get a visa on arrival at Muscat airport. The cost of a tourist visa for up to one month is £ 40.

Q – Will my friends think I am deranged ?

A – Yes ! But sod them ! If this is something that has captured your imagination and you REALLY want to do it AND someone is going to benefit from your fund raising, then go for it. Do something crazy. We can assure you that you will suffer from start to finish. Its 165 km, that’s equivalent to almost 4 normal marathons in 6 days – carrying a load on your back, cooking dull and boring food for yourself in the wilderness of the Arabian Desert; endless sand dunes; temperatures that may rise to 40oC; trashed feet (avoidable); aching limbs; questioning your sanity; dreaming about ice cream, a chicken Madras, bacon and eggs, a Mars bar, a pint, cold winter nights, slippers by the fire when you get back to your tent and all those other little things that you take for granted. There will be times when you contemplate giving up but sheer grit and determination will keep you going and you will do your best. And yes, you will be considered crazy by your friends. But you will be the envy of those people when you get home after the “Arabian Desert cleansing”.

Q – Will I meet other like minded people and make friends ?

A – Yes. Over 100 of them are expected to take part in the ODM 2016. One of the amazing things about this event is the camaraderie, the bond between people who don’t even speak the same language. When you are feeling like shit one day and considering throwing in the towel, a guardian angel will come from behind and walk or jog with you for a few hours. talk to you and give you the encouragement to persevere. He/she will then disappear and you will do the same  for someone else the next day. There is a profound bond between the competitors in that lonely and vast wilderness of sand, sand and more sand.

Q – How will I keep clean ?

A – The organisers provide portable flushing toilets and basic showers which enables all runners to have a short shower at the end of each day. It even gives them the opportunity of rinsing some of the sand out of their clothes.

Q – How important is the weight of my laden ruck-sack ?

A – This is absolutely critical. First of all, forget about luxuries – you wont need to listen to the test match scores on your mini radio, you are unlikely to feel like reading your condensed version of War & Peace, you don’t need an iPad – nor will you be able to recharge it and men are not required to shave every evening for dinner, so aftershave is a luxury. The only luxury you might like to allow yourself is a small lightweight camera to record your moments of agony, the endless dunes and the sunsets. Practise packing the essentials you plan to take and eliminate anything that looks superfluous. We recommend trying to keep the weight, including the ruck-sack to about 10 kg.

Q – Will I encounter creepy crawlies ?

A – Possibly.

Q – How much is this realistically going to cost me ?

A – The registration / entry fee is about £ 845; airfare about £ 450; travel insurance (check with your broker); running shoes allow £ 100; ruck-sack allow £ 120; food for the race about £ 100; incidental kit allow £ 75; Tourist Visa for Oman £ 40; travel expenses allow £ 100. Needless to say, you may already have some of the above items from previous events.

Q – How can I cover these costs ?

A – If you compete on behalf of Facing Africa, we guarantee to refund you the entire entry fee (£ 845) when you have generated a minimum of £2,500 excluding “Gift Aid” (about US$ 3,770 or  € 3,550). If you raise £ 3,000 or more, we will further refund your air-fare up to an amount of £ 450.

Q – How does the charity refund work ?

A – Facing Africa is a registered UK charity. We send 2 teams of about 18 people twice a year to Ethiopia to carry out very complex reconstructive surgery on people with severely disfigured faces. Each team comprises of 4 surgeons, 4 anaesthetists, a doctor and 8 or 9 nurses. Each mission costs around £ 75,000. The trips to Ethiopia obviously need to be funded, and the ODM is one way of fund raising. We look to people like you who can capitalise on your strength of will and perseverance to complete the ODM to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity of asking your friends, family and colleagues to support you by engaging in fundraising for a worthy and honourable cause. You will be amazed at the support people will give you when they see what you are doing to help some of the poorest and malnourished people on earth.

In order to create awareness of your entry for the ODM next November and to generate funds for facing Africa, you should consider the following ideas:-

(a)   Send everyone you know an e-mail detailing the basics of the ODM – running 165 km (4.5 marathons) in 6 days through the Arabian Desert in temperatures that can reach 40oC / 107oF in what is considered “Probably the most uncompromising and merciless footrace on the planet”. You should include photos taken during the ODM 2015. Then add that you are taking part in this event in order to raise funds for a British charity that helps people in Ethiopia with very severely deformed faces caused by a disease called “noma”  which in turn is caused by extreme poverty and malnutrition. Again, use some of the images that can be seen on the Facing Africa web site or ask us for alternative images.

(b)   Create your own web site showing the details and photos of your preparation and then during the race.

(c)   Tweet and post on Facebook and any other social media. Ask everyone to “like” and “retweet” the information

(d)   Contact your colleagues, suppliers, bank, accountants, lawyers, brokers,local Tesco etc etc

Remember, it only takes 50 of your friends to donate £ 50 each or 25 people to donate £100 each in order to achieve the £ 2,500 in donations that will cover your entry fee. Some people will donate more than £ 50. You will find that people are extremely generous when they want to support a friend who is undertaking something that they would never even contemplate themselves and even more when its a cause that is easy to see just with a few images. We have had runners raising over £ 30,000 when taking part in an extreme marathon, so please don’t stop when you reach £2,500.



Location of the Marathon in Oman


 More Information

View the Oman Desert Marathon 2015 official brochure (pdf)

View the Oman Desert Marathon 2015 rules

Register Now, in aid of Facing Africa

If you wish to run the Oman Desert Marathon and will be able to raise sponsorship to  help Facing Africa help the victims of NOMA, you can signup online.

Your registration payment will be handled by Lawrence of Morocco Ltd, on behalf of Facing Africa – click the ‘Register Now!’ button to open the signup form in a new window (please ensure that the Oman event is selected as other events may also be listed).

Register Now!



If you have any questions about the marathon, registration, or raising money on behalf of  Facing Africa, please contact

Chris Lawrence (Chairman/Trustee)


Office + 44 1380 827038

Mobile + 44 7748 180700

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