Meet the Women’s ‘Run for Your Life’ Running Group in Doha, Qatar
By Oola Sports   ·    October 3, 2016    ·    Community, Fitness

In Doha, Qatar, there aren’t many women’s-focused running groups, but there’s one place active ladies can now turn: the Run for Your Life running group!

Started by Oola co-founder and CEO Haya Al Ghanim — an avid runner herself — in July 2016, the group trains together around running goals that they set and track together.

Run for Your Life is a beginners running group for busy women who want to get into running for fitness, stress relief, or just for fun. The group currently has about 40 active participants and is led by a professional running coach, Cherone Rutlidge. A certified personal trainer, Cherone coaches the group and individuals through the runners’ group Whatsapp chat.

How does the group work? “First, we set a common goal: running a 10K after four months of starting the program,” explains Haya. “Then, the coach sends us weekly schedule of workouts that we all follow at our own time and place of convenience. Let’s say I complete the assigned Sunday run, I capture my run data (heart rate, distance, time, etc.) and share it with our coach and the group. If I have any questions, I’d ask the group for recommendation/advice.”

The remote training and group chat communications make it easy for women who are busy with work, family and other obligations to fit training into their schedules. Everyone works towards the shared goal, typically a milestone race — such as a 3K, 5K, or 10K — and meets at those races as well as at casual training sessions leading up to the races.

Building a Women’s Running Community

Qatar Running SeriesOola co-founder Haya Al Ghanim decided to start the group this past summer when she and a friend made a pact to train together for a 10K race. “Then I thought it’d be more fun if my sister and her sisters joined and their friends and our friends joined, and so on. I ended up posting a message on social media to gauge the ladies’ interest,” says Haya.

The group has grown to 40+ participants, and the group’s Whatsapp chat continues to expand. The crew ran its first race together on August 26th, a 3K race at Oxygen Park in Doha, organized by the Qatar Running Series. The group votes on races they want to participate in based on location and the majority’s availability; it has already planned two more races — October 21st and November 25th, also through the Qatar Running Series.

“The Qatar Running Series happens to be an amazing fit for our group,” says Haya. “They happen frequently, they change locations, and they’re more low-key that other large races.”

In Doha, it can be rare to see a local woman running a race in hijab. Typically at larger races, a woman in hijab would attract lots of attention. The Qatar Running Series, though, is mostly free of media, so it’s all run and no distractions.

Big Dreams for a Growing Group

“The whole idea is to spread running culture,” Haya says. “I hope to increase the number of women participating and hopefully our group will organize a women’s-only race very soon! Already, though, I’m so happy I’m no longer the only local woman at the races!”

There has been increasing interest around Doha in supporting women’s inclusion in sporting events. In early May this year, the Losail Racing Circuit in Doha hosted a women’s-only training day for women to come run and cycle. “The track is beautiful, and a lot of women showed up,” says Haya. “Because of the interest level, we hope the track managers are going to have more frequent women’s-only events. As the weather gets better, they’re going to open up the track once per month for women only.”

Get Involved!

If you’d like to get involved in the Run for Your Life running group, email the Oola team at info@oolasports.com, and we’ll get your connected to the Run for Your Life running group pronto!