Running Sharm el Sheikh, Dec 2013

Posted: 8th January 2014 by mockjogger in Running Away, Training Runs
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To say that the town the town of Sharm el Sheikh is not beautiful would be to flatter it. Built where the desert meets the Red Sea, it is a juxtaposition of luxurious (or so I’m told) 5* hotels and abandoned derelict buildings, wonderful sparsely-used colour-tasatic tropical fish-filled sand-and-coral beaches, partially completed rocky footpaths, shanty-town markets, decorated camels and counterfeit  brands. And all the time there is the sound of the hassle. High pressure selling. Anything and everything. Would you like a massage on the beach? No thanks. Why not? Converse trainers for $12, which colour? And on we go. Any currency works here.

Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

I like it. I’ve been to this area of the Red Sea three times now. Most folks spend their time either in a hotel resort or on an escorted trip, but two things make it good for running. Firstly, over the Christmas and New Year period it is typically 25 degrees in the shade from 9am to 4pm, which is about 20 degrees more than I have been getting of late. That means running in shorts and T shirt again. Secondly I can end the run at a poolside bar with an unlimited supply of free beer (technically termed “all inclusive”). As I discovered, those two advantages became very precious, because to be honest, the rest of it was less appealing.

I typically set off as the sun was heading down around 4.30pm. First challenge was to get the security guard to take me seriously and open the gate. It turned out that my hotel was not near anything interesting, which meant the first mile either direction was straight down the middle of a four lane road. I run the streets of Edinburgh all the time, but now I appreciate the fresh breeze of home much more. In Sharm the car exhaust fumes just kinda lingered, forming a heady cocktail with the dry, dusty desert air to create a bad taste after only a few steps, which just wouldn’t go away.

More Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

More Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

After trying out a couple of different routes I settled on a regular 5+ miler. A mile down the road from the hotel I turned past a Mosque and ran downhill to the Old Market. This was always the highlight for me. Yes, the bad taste remained, but the market was an abundance of colour, noise and sharp one-liners. I liked the traders and got all sorts of “encouragement” vocalized at me as I ran through the market. Some of the traders I got to recognise. I was usually running in a 2010 Japan world cup football (soccer) top which caused much confusion the first couple of times. I guess I don’t look very Japanese.

Out of the market and into the road for a loop around the west side of Maya bay. I would like to meet the guy who designed the footpaths here. And then I would like to meet the guy who built them. The walls were enormous, and it felt more like a cross between a hurdle race and a pole vault at times, particularly when running uphill. The hotel I was staying at owned a section of beach here with its own restaurant, which they brought us to by minibus when we wanted. I ran past that then back around the South Side of the Old Market. Here the footpaths were unfinished, and cracked and lumpy where they were completed. Close attention needed to be paid here to avoid spraining something.

Even more Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

Even more Sharm el Sheikh Old Market

Usually about this time the hotels started spraying clouds of mosquito fumigant. That added to the cocktail of fumes and dust in my mouth, and I felt like the guy in the beer advert who deliberately thirsted himself out to enjoy that pint all the more. Then it was back up the hill, past the mosque and the final mile back along the middle of the road to meet the security guard, who I could tell was questioning my sanity, and in to the hotel.

I did 7 runs / 37 miles over the two weeks, which was all I really wanted given that there were fun things to do with the family. Still, it will hopefully have kept the body ticking over as marathon training now starts in earnest.

Sharm el Sheikh run. The Old Market is the U before mile 2

Sharm el Sheikh run. The Old Market is the U before mile 2

  1. Thiss design iss spectacular! You definitely know
    how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos,
    I was almost moved tto start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
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  2. Justin Foss says:

    Just stumbled across this blog and it reminded me of the early morning runs I did in Sharm earlier this year.

    Were you staying at the St George hotel in Sharm when you did these runs?