Abu Dhabi: The Zayed International Half Marathon was a huge success Thursday, with more than 35,000 runners of different ages and nationalities, along with professionals and amateurs taking part in the different races.
Tilahum Regassa from Ethiopia won the first prize of $300,000 in the men's category, at a time of 59:19 minutes (a new record for the competition) to cross the finish line.
Kenyan Sammy Kitwara finished second (59:34) to win $100,000 and Ethiopian Lelisa Desild finished third (59:59).
"The Kenyan runners dominated the start of the race and when I overtook him it was easy going to the end," Regassa said.
"The track was perfect and the running was easy. I am happy to win the race."
In the ladies' category, Mary Keitany of Kenya finished first in 1:07:14 hours to pocket $300,000 followed by compatriot Philes Moraa Ongori in second place (1:09:16) and Ethiopian Dire Tune in third place (1:09:19).
"I was planning to break the world record, but winning first place was a good compensation. I will surely return next year stronger and more prepared to do both, win the title and break the world record."
Praise also went to three national runners who succeeded to finish the 21-kilometre race, with Saif Mohammad Al Rashid first followed by Obaid Mohammad Obaid and Mubarak Musabbah Al Minhali in third place.
It was remarkable that three grandsons of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan took part in the open category of the race and all three were named after the late great leader. They were Zayed Bin Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Zayed Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Zayed Bin Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Footballers and other athletes took part in the race. Abdul Basit Mohammad, the custodian of Al Dhafrah, ran in the open race.
"We are obliged to the late Shaikh Zayed. I am sure that all the youth of the UAE will take part in all competitions that carry his noble name," he told Gulf News.
The disabled ran an emotional race which was greatly applauded, including fellow runners showing great willpower and determination.
"It is not important who won. We are all winners," Mohammad Zayed told Gulf News. "It was an honour to take part in a race that carries the name of our late great leader."