Doha College teacher: geographer, athlete and writer rolled in one!
Dorian Brown, geography teacher at Doha College, has recently completed the arduous challenge of an “Ironman 70.3” – a long-distance triathlon race organized by the World Triathlon Corporation which involves a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride, and then a 21.1km run. In his own engaging words, which make you feel like you were really there, here is the story of how he got to accomplish such an adventure:
About two years ago, I began my 'mid-life tri-sis' and set a goal of completing an Ironman race. Having dabbled in running for some years, I was confident I could run the distance, but swimming and cycling were new to me. Having bought a road bike just before COVID, I made use of the smooth roads of Qatar to improve my endurance in the saddle. There were many early Friday morning starts, and I cycled a ride in December 2020 that went all around the exterior roads of Qatar (520km) in one day! Swimming was the final piece of the puzzle and a slow but steady approach, along with some tips from YouTube, helped me improve my technique and gradually increase my distance week by week.
And so, the day of the Muscat Ironman 70.3 arrived and nervous excitement was the vibe of the morning! The swim was to start at sunrise and 300+ wetsuit clad participants gathered on the start line, all sporting the Ironman standard-issue red swim cap. The siren sounded and we were off! Wetsuits offer a welcome degree of buoyancy in the water and, so long as you avoid flailing arms of other participants, the swim can be a good way to wake up and warm up for the next stage. 1.9km later and it was time to transition to the cycling stage. As quick as I could, I stripped off the wetsuit (not as easy as it sounds!) and grabbed my bike waiting on the rack to begin the voyage through Muscat and its environs.
This being my first my first time in Oman (and actually my first experience of cycling up and down hills), it was a demanding course but so, so beautiful. As a geographer, I couldn't help but admire the fantastic rock formations and natural beauty as the route took us along rolling hills, hugging the coastline around Mutrah Corniche before taking us inland and back towards Musca. The final transition required a generous daubing of sunscreen, as the mid-morning sun had began to beat down upon the runners for the final 21.1km leg. Thankfully, energy drinks, water and iced sponges were flung at us at regular checkpoints, and we were spurred on by the cheers and homemade banners of the locals who had come out to offer encouragement.
It was not all unicorns and rainbows near the end, as my legs and mind struggled against the demands I had put on them, but I dug in and managed to somehow cross the line in one piece after 5h39m. Medal around my neck, I collapsed in a euphoric heap, relieved it was over but pretty proud of myself that I had managed to finish in the conditions. "Never again" I said to myself... Three days later, I was on the Ironman website looking for the next one to enter!
Editor's note: since the Ironman race, Mr Brown participated in the Ooredoo race in Lusail and then in the Ultimate Race in Katara - there is just no stopping him!