By Mudassir Raja
For many people, the hardest thing in life is to come out of their comfort zone. Generally, people cannot go away with their routine life. They cannot manage time for daily physical exercise. They keep waiting for an appropriate time.
However, if someone gets a motivation and urge to do something extraordinary, he or she just starts it without waiting for a proper time. Hichame Moubarak has become a motivation for other people since he shook off his routine and started running in 2010. Hichame, 42, is a French national with Moroccan roots.
The Doha-based expatriate has been taking part in Ironman triathlons and has been trying to cross the four most inhospitable deserts of the world on foot. He will be the first French and a Qatar resident to do that. He has been doing all this for a cause, to raise funds of clean drinking water.
Community recently caught up with Hichame, a tough athlete and marathon runner, and interviewed him about his life and extra ordinary achievements.
Tell us about yourself.
I am an Ultra Endurance Athlete. I was born in France in 1976. My parents come from Morocco. I left house when I was 13-years-old to attend a boarding school. I studied engineering.
I left France for Caribbean in 1998 to work as an engineer in the oil and gas sector. Then I travelled to Russia for work. From Russia I came to Qatar about 11 years ago. I live here with my family.
When and how did you come to running and then to athletics?
I always thought what my limits are and always looked for my weaknesses. I have been trying to explore my core. I was bored by the routine life of going to office, staying at home, and watching TV at leisure.
It was in 2010 that I bought a pair of running shoes and started running. I started taking my life seriously. It was very difficult in the beginning but I kept on challenging myself physically. Instead of watching TV for five to six hours, I started running and exercising.
I train myself for 15 hours a week.
How did you become a professional runner?
When I was challenging myself, I realised that I have improved myself a lot. The next step was to test myself with some professionals. I decided to take part in Ironman triathlons. I started getting professional training online form Chris Hauth, a US physical trainer.
I first attended the Ironman race in Italy in 2016. I got my professional license as a runner from a triathlon federation while living in Qatar. I have also taken part in two other triathlons in France. I finished all the races within 10 hours. In a triathlon race, an athlete has to first swim for three hours, run for 42 kilometres and ride a bicycle for 180 kilometres.
I have also participated in several ultra-endurance events such as Ultra Running and Trails (50kms, 100kms) and Ironman Triathlons with swim, bike and running disciplines.
Tell us about ‘The 4 Deserts Race Series.’
‘The 4 Deserts Race Series’ is widely recognised as the most prestigious outdoor foot-race series in the world.
The competitors in each race traverse 250 kilometres in six days over rough country terrain. The competitors are challenged to go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. They must carry their own equipment and food and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest. The series is named by Time magazine as one of the world’s top 10 endurance competitions.
This adventure has successfully been completed only by a small number of people, currently around 62, in a calendar year around the world.
First race challenge was 250km desert. The race took place in April 2018 in Namibia. The participants faced the hottest desert on earth. The second race challenge was 250km in July in Mongolia to face the windiest desert. The third race challenge 250km is in September 2018 in Chile to face the driest desert. The final race challenge (also called the lost desert) 250km will be in November in Antarctica to face the coldest desert.
I completed the race in Namibia in 36 hours and stood at ninth place among the 90 participants. As far as the race in Gobi desert is concerned, I completed it in 32 hours and bagged 32nd position among 260 participants. A successful contestant has to cross the four deserts in a calendar year, more or less in seven months, with breaks in between two races. There are 30 percent women runners among the 62 successful contestants. I will be the first French national and the first Qatar resident to complete the four deserts. I am carrying the flag of Qatar.
What kind of charitable work have you been doing?
I raise my voice for provision of clean drinking water for the poor. Honestly, one day I thought what is one thing that can make a huge impact daily in a positive or negative way in one’s life. Water came up to my mind. Further, training for 15 to 20 hours per week involves dehydration. I was training one day in the desert and was running short on water, I realised how important water is and how powerful this element can be.
Clean Water Access idea came to me at that very moment. People need to have clean drinking water first then they can focus on other major aspects such as health, child education, build a future – in a simple way to live. I have been trying to raise $30,000 to provide clean drinking water to 1,000 families as a first step.
I am taking part in the race to attract the people towards my charity work for provision of clean drinking water.
How has Qatar helped you in becoming a professional athlete?
Qatar is just like home for me. It has given me everything. I am here for livelihood. I got training here to become a professional sportsman. I have explored Qatar while running in the desert and along the beaches. The country is naturally very beautiful. And above all, Qatar has a safe working environment that gives one a piece of mind.
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