23 April 2009


Another photo of Bob the Camel to round off the Arabian adventure. The picture goes some (very small) way to suggesting the various delicate greys and blues of the sky and water and the sand in this part of the Persian Gulf.

The Landmark Hotel gym was not attempted again before departure due to significant rise in temperature which was around 25C on arrival and jumped to 35C. I just couldn’t face it.

I attempted running on the beach, but sand is not as soft as it looks and the fact that I was barefoot and the sun was baking down and a large fruit cocktail was waiting next to my sunbed? I hadn’t the strength of will.


Instead of running, I just took this photo of the Landmark Hotel’s fab new advertising campaign for their ‘Beat the Heat’ package. That would be the non-airconned kind.



14 April 2009


Here at ShunningRunning in our occasional series of ‘Gyms of the World’ designed to do all that arduous work of reviewing the fitness facilities of the globe for you, we can tell you that if you happen to pass a place called the Landmark Hotel in the Emirate of Ajman on the Persian Gulf and look in your guidebook and think ‘Oh, that looks like a handy place to do a 50-minute sesh’ – think about the possible, and more pleasant, alternative of driving a spike through your head instead. Here the drill (oil – geddit?) seems to be that you turn up at the gym in sandals and your usual daywear and stroll about on the treadmill for a few minutes or sit on the exercise bike without peddling, but listening in a dreamy, yet shifty fashion to your very large musical device or turn the chat show on the telly up REALLY LOUD. This is probably because the (what I assumed to be) regulars KNOW that running in a non-airconned gym with the window open (letting in the occasional burst of jet-hot air) is not where it’s at. I was the only one stomping away in a desperate attempt not to lose too much ground while on holiday. I cannot cross any sessions off or pretend I’m progressing. This is just an exercise in damage limitation as the 5-star Kempinski up the road will allow non-residents to use its spa, bar, beach and pool, but not its fitness centre.

The Landmark Hotel gym has only one advantage and that is that it’s free. It sounds incredibly feeble and Western and gurlie to need aircon, but I’ve never attempted to run in heat before. In fact, my speciality is rain and snow. But because access to the gym from hell happens to be thrown in free as it’s adjacent to the block of flats my dad lives in and because I was all kitted up and had dragged myself down there and due in no small measure to the Kempinski conspiracy, I felt I had to give it a go. Maybe I will have to give it one more masochistic go during ‘Ladies Hours’ which run in the morning. This won’t solve the aircon, but it may change that perennial female running problem: slightly dodgy men hanging around for seemingly no good reason.

The alternative to the Landmark Hotel gym is more glamorous: Running through the surf on the golden (well, slightly greyish) sands of the Persian Gulf in Baywatch slow motion. Watch this space.


Holiday session. Main aim: To stay alive. Did 45 minutes of running with a few walking breaks to wipe self down and try not to keel over in heat. Run pace: 6.8 km/h. Confession: I admit to drinking two tiny bottles of white wine on the flight from London to Dubai yesterday.