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Race previews Ayla Red Sea Half Marathon

07 October 2014, 7am

Ayla Red Sea Half Marathon

Ayla Red Sea Half Marathon
Fri 12 December 2014

For European runners – and perhaps some from North African and Middle Eastern countries – the Friday date makes this race in Jordan’s Red Sea port city of Aqaba an ideal long weekend. Many countries are served with direct flights to the Jordanian capital Amman. The half marathon and 10km are run over flat, scenic routes around the ever-growing Ayla golf and residential resort before following the seafront to finish at the Aqaba Flagpole, fifth largest in the world, towering 130m high.

With temperatures rising from the teens to mid-20s this is an event that can mix fast running times with a relaxing stay at world-class hotels and resorts. A post-race swim in 22C waters, sunbathing on the beach, and superlative seafood restaurants are only some of the benefits to be enjoyed. On the cultural side a walk around the 4th century fort, the museum and the remains of the oldest Christian church in history are worth a few leisurely hours.

The Red Sea is famous for its scuba diving and fishing; Wadi Rum, the ‘Valley of the Moon’, with its phenomenal beauty, mountains and rock art, is only an hour’s drive away. Many of the Lawrence of Arabia scenes were shot there. Further up the road is the ancient “Rose-red” city of Petra, a world heritage site, where the rock-hewn buildings date from the fifth century BC.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth (440m below sea level) lies further north. The [Jesus] Baptism site on the River Jordan is only 11km away from the spas, hotels and resorts that line the water’s edge. The medicinal qualities of the salts and Dead Sea mud are legendary.

Driving back to the Jordanian capital of Amman, a small diversion takes you to the best- preserved Roman city outside Italy, Jerash, inhabited from 3200BC.

From there you soon reach the new Queen Alia International airport ready for the flight home, after a short three to four day sojourn of racing, exploration, and relaxation along a cultural trail that will take you back to the beginning of time, all in one country and all in one weekend.

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