Dubai: This one was really worth the wait. No, I really did not mind an early start to the day as I headed towards the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah for the third edition of the Dubai Women’s Run on Friday.
As I made my way past the gigantic structure that is the Atlantis, I was taken aback to see the response. It was close to 6.30am and the first car park was packed already. So I wove my way through a maze of vehicles and entered the main parking area. That done, I managed to scramble up the temporary tower set up at the start line to allow the photographers to get a good shot. I was speechless. This was perhaps the one occasion when I could see nearly 4,000 women in one place coming together for a worthy cause.
Despite being ultra busy with last-minute fine-tuning before the start of the races, Event Director Liesa Euton set aside a few minutes for a chat that proved to be so enlightening. “We barely had 1,000 participants in our opening year, and now we are close to 4,000,” she said.
“I am convinced we are headed in the right direction. This is only our third year and I can easily see 10,000 women coming together for this annual run in the near future.”
In the vicinity was Adv. Ahmad Al Kamali, IAAF Council Member and President of the UAE Athletics Federation (UAE AF). He showed himself to be a happy man, only too obliging to the women who wanted to have their picture taken with him.
“Nearly 4,000 runners from 71 nationalities,” he said. “Our next target is to have 6,000 for the race in 2013. And I doubt this is impossible as we had similar beginnings in the annual Dubai Marathon, where we had just 52 runners in the first year.”
With such an event being put together for the benefit of women, Al Kamali further felt that the best elixir for the race would be a title sponsor of some sort. “If we can get a company to come forward and sponsor this race, we will be able to take it to the next level. There is something for everyone in an event of this nature and a sponsor would simply put us in a better position to organise this race even better,” he said.
By then the races had got underway. Except for the professional runners, no one seemed to be in any hurry, as people made their way, enjoying the morning and having fun. A lovely way to enjoy a lovely day.