Participants going through the paces at the Wellman road run a 3,5 and 10km community run at Meydan on Friday morning. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Kick-starting Dubai’s season of outdoor activities as the UAE’s weather becomes more hospitable following the blistering months of summer, Wellman Road Run (WRR) saw around 700 enthusiasts participating in a variety of long-distance sprints on Friday morning.

Coming close on the heels of Dubai Crown Prince Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s launch of a new fitness challenge for Dubai residents and following on Dubai Government’s policy of promoting a healthy lifestyle, the WRR was the perfect occasion for many to get into the groove for a packed season of fitness activities.

Held on the quiet streets of Meydan, the quarterly event included three categories of runs — 3km, 5km and 10km — both for men and women.

A key event in Dubai’s running calendar, the Wellman run aims at creating health and fitness awareness among various communities.

With the aim of taking the message to all classes of the society, the organisers in this edition had 200 labourers to participate alongside other regular and amateur runners.

“The workers were allowed to participate free of cost with the idea of encouraging them to focus on their health and fitness. Once you get people started, at least some of them might continue the practice and then inspire more people to take better care of their health,” said Mehrunnisa, organiser of the Wellman Road Run.

Held under the supervision of Dubai Sports Council, participation in the run cost Dh125, which included goodies and breakfast.

Dozens of families could be seen taking part in the run alongside workers and regular runners, demonstrating a remarkable atmosphere of camaraderie.

“I really enjoyed taking part in the run, this was my first time and I would definitely love to do it again. I am trying to bring this active lifestyle in our household and this was a very good beginning,” said Maya, an Indian housewife, who ran along with her husband, while their two children cheered for them.

Apart from first-timers and amateurs, the event also saw some regular runners, many of whom topped different categories of runs.

“It was fun running this morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. The weather is starting to get better and it is the perfect time to start running,” said Mohammad Hamad from Ghana, a regular runner who topped the 10km category for males.

Another regular runner, Meryl Cooper from Scotland, who is a physical education teacher at Dubai College, surprised herself when she won the 10km race for females.

“I run often, but this season I have started to pick things up a little bit. This is my first Wellman run and it is amazing to win it. I ran a lot faster than I thought I could and it all just came together perfectly,” said Cooper, who is a long-time resident of Dubai.

Thirty-year-old Palestinian expat Omar Abu Omar is a running enthusiast, who takes part in 10-12 runs every year and is a regular at Wellman runs. This time he is happier that he could manage a second place finish in the 5km male category.

“I have been running for fitness and pleasure for more than 15 years and have been participating in these sort of events since 2012. I have finished in the top three a few times, but today finishing in the second place felt good, and looking forward to more races to do better,” said Abu Omar, who has lived in Dubai all his life and works as a distribution manager.

The UAE’s outdoor season this year is packed with an event almost every week until May next year. The events include running, cycling, triathlon, desert runs and hiking.