Dubai: Ultra Marathon runner Wendelin Lauxen aims to become the first person to run across all seven of the UAE's emirates as he sets off on a two-week 500-km journey, leaving from the boulevard beneath Emirates Towers at 8.30 this morning.
The 49-year-old from Aschenburg, Germany will be running six hours a day in support of 17-year-old Palestinian boy Diya Al Aster who was born with a musculoskeletal deformity that leaves his right leg 40cm shorter than the other.
Lauxen, a former nurse and now founder of his own health care company, needs to raise Dh50,000 for Diya's corrective knee surgery which is pencilled in for next year with expert surgeon Dr Marc Sinclair.
Lauxen's route will take him from Dubai up towards Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, then down towards Khatt Springs, Masafi into Fujairah and Kalba before a long cross-country trek to Abu Dhabi. Running from hotel to hostel and sometimes camping in the wild, Lauxen will be armed only with water and energy drinks while a support car will drop off essentials at specific locations.
In a special league
Already an experienced marathon runner, Lauxen is a member of the exclusive seven continents club, having completed 42km runs in New York, Frankfurt, Dubai, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Sydney and Antarctica within six years. He aims to re-run the seven continents within the record 29 days in 2012, but as of now raising cash for Diya has utmost priority.
"Seven is my lucky number, I was born on July 7, I ran marathons in all seven continents and now I want to run all seven emirates," Lauxen told Gulf News.
"I visited the UAE in January 2010 to establish business. I wanted to run in my spare time but needed a local cause. I found out about Diya via The Little Wings Foundation which works closely with the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund to provide medical assistance to children with deformities living in Gaza and the West bank. Diya's case was one of the most severe. He's one of the most advanced in years and desperately needs surgery to straighten his knee in order to fit a prosthetic limb to lead a normal adult life — I haven't met Diya yet but will visit him before his surgery in Dubai."
Having contacted the Guinness Book of Records Lauxen was not allowed to enter his run given that it was a domestic achievement within the UAE which could not be clarified. However he was informed that the record-keepers had not previously been approached regarding a run of this nature across the UAE's seven emirates.
On completion of this run he hopes to make the event an annual occasion open to runners of all background, age or ability to be held on UAE National Day — the intention being to help more children facing Diya's predicament.
To make a donation please visit: www.7emiratesrun.com