From left: Heinrich Popow, Zainab Al Eqabi, Mohammad Ayoub, Wendelin Lauxen, Managing director German Limbtech and Tareq Saqqa at Dubai Healthcare City Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: For the first time on Saturday, residents with prosthetic limbs will participate in the ‘7 Emirates Run’ to send a message that being an amputee is nothing to be ashamed of.

The 12-day charity run across the emirates will cover 575km — roughly the height of 694 Burj Khalifas stacked together.

The event is raising donations for Al Jalila Foundation to help put young amputees or children suffering from leg deformities back on their feet by giving them artificial limbs.

UAE resident and Guinness World Record holder Wendelin Lauxen will lead the runners. German sprinter Heinrich Popow, who won Gold in 100 meters sprint at the Paralympics 2012 in London, will join the pack for a few meters along with the amputees. Popow is in the country to train the amputees to run on sports prosthetics.

“Most amputees feel ashamed about their condition while some think it’s impossible for them to live a normal life. We want to inspire people and tell them having prostheses is not a bad thing,” Lauxen, founder of the charity run who holds the record of fastest time to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents, told Gulf News ahead of the Saturday event.

Full distance teams of seven runners and relay teams of seven runners will start the ultra marathon on Saturday in Abu Dhabi and conclude the route in Dubai on December 2 on the occasion of the 44th UAE National Day.

The route goes from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah and finally arriving in Dubai, with an average of 48 kilometers per day.

Abu Dhabi resident Tareq Al Saqqa, 29, said while he couldn’t run the full 48km yet, he hopes to run between 5km and 10km on Saturday.

“I’ve missed this feeling (running) for three years. In our society, we need to do a lot of activities to change the mindset of people about being an amputee. There’s no need to shy away from the crowd,” Al Saqaa, a biomedical engineer who lost his leg at a work accident, said.

“Show yourself. Trust your ability. My disability has opened my eyes to my true ability.”

Zainab Al Eqabi, who was fit with an ottobock sports prosthesis for the first time on Thursday, said this was something she had always wanted.

“I have not run for 17 years. This is my first time to do it again and seeing and feeling the air on your face as you run is really valuable,” Zainab said. “If I make it on Friday, I’ll run a few meters to encourage others that they have a choice [to be active] and that everything is possible.”

Two-and-a-half-year old Mohammad Ayoub, who was the recipient of the 7 Emirates Run’s donations in 2013 was present during at the sports clinic to be exposed to other amputees.

Umm Rashid, his mother, said he won’t be running on Saturday as he is still adjusting to his prosthetics.

“They replace his prosthetics every six months as he grows. He learned to crawl with it first,” she said.

“We are grateful to 7 Emirates Run and Al Jalila Foundation because our son can now walk because of them.”

How to donate

  • To make a donation, visit the donation page of www.7emiratesrun.com