Jacques Rijkmans who will compete in the Dubai Marathon for the 13th time this year. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: Jacques Rijkmans, Malcolm Murphy and Antonio Di Somma love to break new barriers with their determination and passion for running.

Age has not slackened their enthusiasm to run in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and they have emerged stronger every year.

Rijkmans holds the honour of having run in all twelve editions of the Dubai Marathon.

Murphy is close behind, missing just once in 2007 when he had pull out after 500 metres owing to an injury.

However, it will only be the sixth attempt at the Dubai Marathon for 55-year-old Di Somma.

He has repeatedly won the best runner award in the above-50 age group. Inspired by his success in Dubai, Di Somma participated in races for his age category around the world last year and came first in London, Copenhagen and New York. He also came second in Berlin and in the Helsinki World Masters Championships.

"It gives me immense pride to know that I am the only person to have completed every single edition of the Dubai Marathon," Rijkmans told Gulf News after training at Safa Park.

"My training starts in earnest once the summer temperatures begin to recede, usually in September or October," Rijkmans added. His first run came in 1987 in the Peninsula Marathon in Cape Town.

"I am passionate about running and as long as I am able, I will continue to run. In the first few years of marathon running ones' time tends to improve, but then they level out.

"After 23 years of marathon running I will struggle to improve on my best time. However, on Friday, I will try to run at my best time since 2002. I am only 48 years young," Rijkmans said.

He is hoping that Dubai Marathon too will provide permanent numbers to athletes competing in the same marathon for a decade, like they do in the South Africa marathon.

Murphy not only runs but as chairman of the Dubai Creek Striders running club, inspires many runners to take part.

"I ran my first marathon in Dubai's first marathon in November 1998. We probably had 200 runners and the start was from outside of Al Wasl Club and [the] finish was after a lap inside their stadium.

"I remember coming into the stadium when everyone else was leaving in a time of 5 hours and 15 minutes. In January 2000, I cut one hour off my time and haveimproved ever since," said Murphy, who hates to miss Dubai marathon.

Stress fracture

"I missed the 2007 marathon because after doing 16 weeks of heavy training, running five times a week, I got injured with a major stress fracture.

"I set off in the race but only managed to run 500 metres and had to stop due to the pain. I had to walk back to the start nearly in tears with many runners asking me what was wrong.

"However, I did manage to get out and support our other club runners along the route and give them all the encouragement they needed," he recalled.

Incidentally, when Di Somma ran in the 2004 Dubai Marathon and got cramps after 24km, it was Murphy who helped him out and inspired him to keep running.

In January 2009, he finished first in over 50 age group in Dubai Marathon with a timing of 2:52:44 and in February he turned 55 and emerged the winner in London (2:49:47), Copenhagen (2:48:39) and New York (2:50:42).

"It was nice to win in London and New York. In Copenhagen I got my personal best arriving 11 minutes before the second runner of my age group. Last year I won the age group Italian title in 100km race," said Di Somma proudly.