Cyclists from across the world have come to compete in an unsupported ultra-cycling race taking place along Oman’s rugged terrain.
This year, the second edition of BikingMan has attracted even more female competitors, 12 women in total out of 79 athletes.
Ahead of the race, contestant Helle Bachofen Von Echt looked forward to testing her personal fortitude.
“I’m going to take myself to an extreme, where I don’t know how I will react mentally and physically, and that’s what’s exciting about this specific event for me,” she says.
The riders set off at 3:00am to cycle 1,050 kilometers and climb a total elevation of 7,200 meters through the Hajar Mountains, Al Sharqiyah Desert and along the Arabian Sea to finish in Muscat.
As the clock never stops, the racers will have to decide when to eat, drink and rest.
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“I’ve sat down only twice, I’ve had two hot meals, and I’ve not slept yet,” says Von Echt as she cycles through the desert. “I’ve just started to get really tired and a lot of pain - I’m just desperately trying to make it.”
Von Echt eventually made it to the finish line in 10th position, making the top 15 percent of athletes.
The boom in ultra-distance sports has spurred scientists to analyse how the body performs in extreme situations where endurance and stamina are tested. Some studies state that women are less fatigable than men, therefore, as more women enter these types of ultra races, the more likely they are to win.
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Another female BikingMan contestant, Jasmijn Muller, broke a distance record in 2017, in a virtual bike race called Zwift. She did so by pedalling 1,828km in 62 hours.
“I set out to break an indoor record on the turbo, which at the time was 1,010 miles and it was done by a man. I thought I could do better,” says Muller.
Crossing the BikingMan finish line in 9th position, Muller shared her advice to other determined female athletes out there: “Be the egg. The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. So, it’s not about circumstances, it’s what you’re made of. It speaks to the grit in you.”
SEEN ON SOCIAL: RACING UP
British cyclist Georgie, shared this photo as she became the first woman in Oman’s BikingMan contest to summit Jebel Shams.