Dubai: Seventy thousand runners took part in the inaugural 5km and 10km Dubai Run along Shaikh Zayed Road on Friday.
Spearheaded by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, the run was part of the third edition of the month-long Dubai Fitness Challenge that challenges people to do 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days from October 18 to November 16.
Shaikh Hamdan said, “Today marks a milestone in our mission to make Dubai the most active city in the world — together as one society. I commend the enthusiasm and energy of our people and I am proud of how the people of Dubai — across ages, nationalities and abilities — have come together to create such an inspiring event.
“Congratulations to all those who accepted the challenge. I am confident that you will encourage even more to join over the coming days and make DFC 2019 our most successful edition yet.”
Dubai Metro ran a special service from 4am to get runners to the start line at Dubai Convention Centre, and Shaikh Zayed Road - the city’s main thoroughfare - was closed for two hours.
The atmosphere was electric as a rainbow of nationalities and ages gathered at Trade Centre gyrating to foot tapping music while building their adrenaline and energy for what lay ahead.
Kicking off at 6.30am for the 5-km run and 6.40am for the 10-km, runners ran up the straight of Shaikh Zayed Road between its iconic buildings and then turned off at the first interchange to then either encircle Dubai Downtown Boulevard for the 10-km or to come back on themselves down Happiness Street for the 5-km.
Yulia Bowen from Russia completed the 5-km run in 33 minutes.
“I had nine or 10 songs on my iPod and could have run a little faster, but there were many obstacles in the way from slow runners to people taking selfies etc,” she said.
An entire Romanian family of four – Ionella and Caesar Cojocar with their sons Edgar and Darius also joined the run.
“We love doing outdoor activities as a family and it feels good to be here with so many people,” said Ionella.
Filipino nationals - Patrick and Abby Bejar were there with their sisters in law – Vanessa and Angelica Bejar to take part in the 5-km run.
“This is a fun run and we thought it was a good idea to do it with so many people together. The energy is so high here,” said Patrick.
Young Filipino mother Veronica Van Aardt brought her one-year-old daughter Maria in her pram to be part of the fun.
“The morning feels so bright and enthusiastic. I wanted to be part of it so I brought my daughter along as well.”
Even those recovering from serious illness decided to give it go.
Stroke patient Ashok Desai, 52, completed the 5-km.
“After suffering a paralytic stroke in April this year, I could not have imagined, I would be able to do this,” he said. “But my doctors at Rashid Hospital gave me timely help and all my symptoms reversed. I gave up smoking, unhealthy food and began walking from May this year. Gradually I built up the strength to walk 5-km each day, reduced my weight from 102-kg to 80-kg and was able to complete the walk. I feel incredibly blessed that I reclaimed my health and life and am in a place that cares about people’s health,” he added.
Moroccan national Samir Jouaher won the men’s 10-km in 27 minutes and 44 seconds, while Ethiopian student Refref Mohammad won the women’s 10-km in 36 minutes, 45 seconds.
Names of the top three the men’s and women’s 10-km
- 1. Samir Jouaher, 27 minutes, 44 seconds
- 2. Anouar El Ghouz, 27 minutes, 57 seconds
- 3. Mohammad Mira, 28 minutes, 17 seconds
- 1. Refref Mohammad, 36 minutes, 45 seconds
- 2. Fanos Tekle, 37 minutes, 7 seconds
- 3. Anna Churnskutova, 41 minutes, 11 seconds