The only thing worse than running a marathon is being forced to do so in flip flops

Since developers are busy air conditioning outside malls in Doha, they might have wanted to try doing so for the poor racers at this marathon.  Apparently organizers wanted to break the Guinness Book of World Records by attracting 50,000 marathoners to the event.  Why this would be something worthwhile is unclear to me, but there you have it.  They claim to have had 33,000 workers but the press reports that it was only a couple thousand.

That’s the least of the worries with this race though.  Here are some low-lights:

1. “Chaotic management, poor distribution of race packs and refreshments and a late start, which meant the race did not begin until 2pm, in the heat of the day.” Yikes, definitely time to consider air conditioning (or at least better management!)

2. Says one disappointed finisher: “there was nobody on the officials table, no organizer, no medals for finisher, and to think that there were timing devices on our numbers..what are we supposed to one explain it to us…very disappointing…”

3. “Hundreds of men who appeared to be laborers, wearing jeans, flip-flops or running barefoot. Some laborers tried to leave but were turned back and were yelled at that they need to stay and cross the line. Others were forced to walk several kilometers before the organizers obviously realized they would not finish, and so they were loaded back into their busses and sent away.” Well, that should help burnish Qatar’s record on forced labor and unethical working conditions.

4. “Police removed road blocks while people were still participating in the race” and while there were 400,000 water bottles available to the runners, organizers for some reason stopped handing them out.

Hmm, this should put to rest all the doubts about Qatar being a good place to hold the World Cup.

There is no Great Stagnation, Doha edition

I think part of becoming a parent means you have to say things to your kids like “close that door, you can’t air condition the outdoors.”  Now kids can point to Doha to show their parents how wrong they are:  you can air condition the outside!

Lee Kwan Yew pointed out that AC was one of the greatest inventions of modern times, allowing workers in tropical areas to be more productive.  Now shoppers in hot climates can be more productive:

“It gets pretty hot in Qatar. In summer, temperatures can hit 47 °C, hot enough to make any outdoor event a pretty uncomfortable experience. This could have proved problematic for the designers of a new outdoor shopping complex at Doha’s Katara Cultural Village, too. But they’ve come up with a solution: they’re going to install outdoor air conditioning in the centre’s main plaza. Outdoor air conditioning is actually becoming quite a big thing in Doha. This year, it was installed in the fan area of the Aspire Track Zone football stadium.”

Hmm, here’s a less insane idea, how about just enclosing the mall and football stadium?