|at the gate|
|and they're off!|
We were the only females at the races for the first half an hour or so (more came later- but only tourists, I didn't see any local women though it's possible- not likely- that they were somewhere in the clubhouse.) There were maybe 6-10 people milling around like us who clearly had nothing to do with the camel care but most people there were camel owners and caretakers and they were caught up in the races. We wandered around and discovered we could stand at the starting gate, right down next to the track. They run about 15-20 camels at once. The gate doesn't have individual slots for each camel like at a horse race. Instead they're all lined up along one pole, side by side and when the pole lifts, the tether that was keeping them at the gate drops away and they're off with their gawky lopes! They kind of sway and some don't run especially straight out of the gate but it's exciting being right up beside them. I just read that camels can run about 40mph (65kmph) in short sprints and can sustain 25mph (40kmph) speeds for an hour or more. If I'd had a better car for it, we might've tried driving alongside on the outer track- next time!
The camel races were a great taste of local culture! Come visit in season and I'll take you!