Harrison wins 50K race in Qatar

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

Emily Harrison wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the end she got exactly what she came for.

Harrison, a Warren County High School graduate and former standout runner at the University of Virginia, made her first trip to the Middle East last week as she raced in the 10th International Association of Ultrarunners 50km World Trophy Final in Doha, Qatar. She won Friday’s race in 3:15:01, over two minutes ahead of Russia’s Nina Podnebesnova, who finished second.

“I was a little nervous because it was my first time in the Middle East,” Harrison said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I didn’t know what to expect. It’s really hot over there. 90 degrees, 60 percent humidity. They actually held the race at night, at 6 p.m., to try to make the conditions a little better.”

Harrison, who now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, said she left on Oct. 27, and didn’t get in Doha until the evening of Oct. 28. Qatar is 15 hours ahead of her time on the West Coast.

Harrison said one of the biggest challenges was getting used to the heat, and how to run it.

“You just have to relax, you don’t want to start off crazy fast,” Harrison said. “You just want to make it an easy race, and not race hard too early. I was happy with my time, considering the conditions. It was 17 seconds off my personal best, but I was expecting a slower time in the heat.”

Harrison said she was invited to the IAU 50km World Trophy Final because of how well she did in the USA Track and Field 50k road championships earlier in the year, a race she won.

Harrison said she has run in other countries such as England and Japan, and she might do more of it in future years.

“It’s really nice to be able to see other countries, and parts of the world, that I otherwise would not be able to,” Harrison said. “It’s cool that I’m able to do that, and I might look to do more of that next year or in the future.”

Harrison will definitely get to see more of Doha very soon. She will be running in the 100k World Championships on Nov. 21 in Doha. It will be on the exact same course that she just ran on, and she said it was good to run in the Oct. 31 race and see what the conditions and surroundings were like.

“The 50k was like a good warm-up for the race coming up,” Harrison said. “I’m looking forward to going back over there and running on the same course.”

Harrison will be part of a six-woman, seven-man U.S. team, which was selected by the U.S. Track and Field.

Harrison said it’s always an honor to race for the U.S.

“Anytime you can represent the U.S. it’s a great opportunity,” Harrison said. “The U.S. usually does very well in these events, so there’s also some pressure to perform well. Hopefully, we’ll do well and we can win some titles.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com