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Joao Arteche ran 100km in Ras Al Khaimah's Hajar mountains in 16 hours as part of the UAEMANchallenge 2021. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Brazilian fitness coach Joao Arteche, a resident of Dubai who completed a challenging ultra-triathlon recently, said the pandemic cannot be an excuse to stay away from one’s fitness regime. Arteche and his fellow coaches launched UAEMANchallenge 2021 six months ago — an initiative that is expected to inspire those looking for opportunities to stay fit.

Arteche completed a tough ultra-triathlon challenge to prove that one can set one’s own fitness goals and achieve them. “I was trying to find the longest-distance endurance event in the world and wanted to experience it here in the UAE. So, I picked Ras Al Khaimah as the perfect spot for my endurance test. One of the reasons I did this was because a number of races and triathlon meets had been cancelled. Then I told myself: ‘Why do I need a race to challenge myself. We can do it on our own’.”

So what exactly did he do?

On the first day, Arteche swam 34 kilometres in open-water sea. “It took me 11 hours to complete. The English Channel is the most traditional open-water challenge in the world. It is part of the triple crown of open-water swim challenges and is compared to the ‘Everest challenge’ due to the difficulty of the cold water, changes in weather, change of tides. So I thought to use that distance as a benchmark for the UAEMANchallenge,” explained Arteche.

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On the second day, Arteche climbed the Jebel Jais by biking up and down the mountain seven times. Image Credit: Supplied

On the second day, he climbed the Jebel Jais by biking up and down the mountain seven times. “It took me 20 hours to complete. I started the climb at 1.30am and finished at 10pm. The fitness community was there to cheer me and keep my spirits going. It felt wonderful.”

On the third day, he ran 100km through Ras Al Khaimah’s Hajar Mountains. “It took me 16 hours to complete,” he added. 

Why the Hajar Mountains?

“The Hajar 100km run is the hardest Ultra-terrain run event in the region. It is a combination of high mountains, extremely technical descents and long off-road runs, which make this race unique,” Arteche explained.

Preparation

Arteche trained three hours a day, 25 hours a week for this event. “It involved mixed training, in open water, at the gym, lots of cycling and climbing. I also took care of my nutrition, which was equally important.”

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On the first day, Arteche swam 34 kilometres in open-water sea in 11 hours. Image Credit: Supplied

Why the name ‘UAEMAN’

“It is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the beautiful country called UAE. It is my way of representing the UAE, which is so rich in its topography and makes it so convenient for people to stay fit and undertake their own personal fitness challenges.”

Arteche has partnered with The Heroes of Hope and Al Jalila foundation.“The message that I want to deliver is that people can always be more active and do sports. Do not wait for things to happen or events to be launched. We are living in an era where things are changing so fast.”

What next?

“To organise more ultra-triathlons. People can join me anytime. So we can grow as a community. Going forward, we want to organise shorter versions of what I completed, so everyone can join me. This way, we build a community and also look out for each other. Not just that, we come up-close to a culture like that of the UAE’s and see and feel its topography like it has never been done before.”