It was the first foreign race for me this year Egyptian Half Marathon “Pyramids Half Marathon”, which took place in February in Cairo. This running season was unsuccessful, as most of the foreign starts were canceled or postponed to the following year. So, at the end of the year, the main goal was to get to at least some running competitions outside the borders of our country.
The choice was not too big. I had to choose between three countries: Bulgaria (3 marathons), Turkey (2 marathons) and Egypt (half marathon). And I chose the last one Egyptian half marathon - "El Gouna Half Marathon", which was held in mid-November on coast of the Red Sea in the town of El-Gouna. It is also called the "Pearl of the Red Sea".
Registration on half marathon in El Gouna took place already in the traditional way for most experienced athletes - online on the official website of the race elgounahalfmarathon.com, where each participant had to fill in their details and choose the required T-shirt size, as well as pay the entry fee. It was for early registration – 700 EGP (45 $) and for regular – 800 EGP (52 $).
A trip to Egypt was my first trip abroad this year after the quarantine. If in winter I flew to Cairo with a transfer in Istanbul, then this time I had to look for a direct flight from Kyiv to Hurghada. It should be noted that there were no major innovations during flights and border crossings during the pandemic.
The most important thing is that you had to wear a mask on your face the entire flight, and visas were also canceled. They were replaced by a certificate with a negative PCR test result. This document could be made in Ukraine, but no later than 72 hours before arrival in Egypt or directly at the airport upon arrival, but the cost of the test itself is $30. In addition, it is recommended to have a medical insurance policy with you in case of the disease COVID-19 and the need for its treatment outside Ukraine.
The road to Egypt
So, after passing passport control and getting the appropriate stamp in my passport, I immediately left Hurghada airport went to the hotel where he had previously booked a room. It was located in the town of El Gouna, 30 minutes from the airport.
Preparation for race for 21 kilometers started the day before. The organizers have made convenient markings along the entire route, deployed the starting town. In the evening before the start, the distribution of start packages began on the territory of the local school. For this, it was necessary to present an identity card, after which the participant received his starter pack.
Half marathon route
Running event “El Gouna Half Marathon” started at 8 o'clock in the morning. First, the participants of the main half-marathon race started, and an hour later - the athletes who decided to try their hand at the 10-kilometer satellite competition. And the last ones started their run runners for a distance of 5 kilometers.
Half marathon route "El Gouna Half Marathon" consists of one lap and runs mostly on well-paved roads the streets of the ancient city. Its first part, in my personal impression, is the most interesting. After all, it passes along local canals and historical architectural monuments. The second part is the residential quarters of El Gouna and along the local highway, which, by the way, offers a beautiful view of the entire city and the Etbay mountain range. If in the first half of the race it was possible to hide from the scorching Egyptian sun under the crowns of trees, then the second part of the half-marathon took place in the open area and we all felt how scorching the Egyptian sun can be. The only salvation for all participants was the hydration points that could be found every 3 kilometers.
The finish line was near the location where the local film festival “El Gouna Film Festival” usually takes place. By the way, the start and finish in this race did not coincide. All athletes finished at the local port, where they could rest from the competition and enjoy landscapes of the Red Sea.
I liked the "El Gouna Half Marathon" in general. First of all, good organization, an interesting route and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Red Sea coast.