Officials of the RAK Half-Marathon have announced that the 2021 edition of the event, which was set to run on February 19, has been “postponed” until 2022. The event, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the fastest half-marathons on the race calendar, and in 2020 it saw Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh run to the women’s world record. This year’s race looked like it could have been even more exciting, as more and more of the world’s top road runners continued to join the stacked elite field. As fun as this would have been to watch, organizers had to call it off, and running fans around the world will have to wait until next year to see another RAK Half showdown.
After careful consideration, we have taken the decision to postpone the 15th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, which was set to take place on February 19th, 2021 on Al Marjan Island to 2022.
— @rakhalfmarathon (@rakhalfmarathon) February 3, 2021
In 2020, the running world got used to race cancellations, but in recent months, a lot of events have been able to go ahead. Because of this, the RAK Half’s cancellation comes as a surprise. However, unlike most other runs that have gone ahead, the RAK Half was planning a mass participation race in addition to the elite events. Had an elite-only event been planned (similar to the ones held at the London or Valencia marathons), the race could have potentially still gone ahead this year.
“This is a necessary measure to protect the wellbeing of our participants, spectators and staff in light of the ever-evolving situation,” race officials wrote in the cancellation announcement. “The safety of all visitors to Ras Al Khaimah remains our utmost priority and we are very grateful for the understanding and support of the event participants at this time.”
A message from our reigning champion, Ababel Yeshaneh, as she reminisces breaking the Half Marathon World Record this year!
Are you ready to see her battle in the fastest elite line-up known for #RAKHalf2021? pic.twitter.com/YM9b8cOig8
— @rakhalfmarathon (@rakhalfmarathon) December 31, 2020
Missing a great race
The RAK Half-Marathon truly would have been amazing to watch. On the men’s side, current half-marathon world record holder Kibiwott Kandie was set to face off against former world record holder Geoffrey Kamworor. Other big names on the list of elites included Jacob Kiplimo (the 2020 world half-marathon champion who has a budding rivalry with Kandie), Mosinet Geremew (the fourth-fastest marathoner of all time) and Julien Wanders (the European half-marathon record holder).
The women’s race was set to feature a rematch from last year’s event, in which Yeshaneh shocked marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei to take the win and half-marathon record in 1:04:31. They were going to be joined by American Sara Hall, who is coming off an incredible 2020 season, and Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning half-marathon world champion and the owner of the women-only half-marathon world record (there are two women’s world records — Yeshaneh’s was run with male pacers, while Jepchirchir’s 1:05:16 record was in a women-only event).
The race would have been one of the best of the year, but now we have to wait for the 2022 race and hope that it features the same star-studded lineup that would have run this year.