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Athletes at the starting point of Dubai Marathon last year. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: As the countdown has begun for the 21st edition of the Dubai Marathon 2020 on January 24, the Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Holding has launched a “My City My Race” campaign to increase the Emiratis’ participation in the event.

Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of Emiratis taking part in the marathon but the organisers would like to see more participation and they hope that this campaign will see a record number of runners from the community line up alongside some of the world’s greatest elite marathon runners.

Organised under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Marathon is largest mass participation sports event in the Middle East.

Speaking at the press conference held to announce this campaign at the Dubai Sports Council, Khalid Al Awar, Director of Dubai Sports Council’s Sports Events Department, said: “The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is the biggest mass-participation sports event in this part of the world, with the number of participants exceeding 30,000 in the past few years. This year, however, we are expecting to breach the 50,000-mark in terms of participation. We are confident we can achieve that target because we have witnessed an increasing awareness about physical activity and fitness among both Emiratis and expatriates.”

Al Awar also hailed the initiatives, which are leading to an increase in participation. “Thanks to a number of initiatives launched under the guidance of Sheikh Hamdan, we have seen more and more people embrace a physically active lifestyle and take part in events in big numbers. We expect many of them to show up at the start line on January 24.”

Competitors will take part in the 4km Fun Run, 10km and the traditional Marathon, all starting from the iconic route on Jumeirah Beach Road.

Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, Peter Connerton, Event Director of Dubai Marathon and Mohamed Sabah Al Khalaf, Chief Information Security Officer at Dubai Holding, were present at the press conference. Al Khalaf announced that he will be taking part for the 10th time in the 10km race and will lead the Dubai Holding’s 2,000-strong corporate team at the race.

“Improving the well-being of our employees and our communities is a key focus for us and this year we are actively encouraging UAE Nationals to show their national pride and take part in the Dubai Marathon with our ‘#MyCity_MyRace’ campaign,” said Khalid Al Malik, Managing Director of Dubai Holding.

“The response we’ve received from government organisations, partners and running clubs with a high percentage of Emirati members and UAE national teams has been incredible. It is truly inspiring to see the Emirati youth get behind the campaign and help influence their communities on the benefits of having an active lifestyle.”

Connerton lauded the support for the event: “Dubai Holding is to be applauded for their encouragement of UAE nationals through the ‘#My City_My Race’ campaign, while the Dubai Sports Council is one of our closest partners in helping stage an event that continues to go from strength to strength. We look forward to working closely with both bodies as we count down to the big day on January 24.”