Dubai: The runners were off to a strong start. They came in pairs, groups of threes, fours, fives and more – transforming the iconic Sheikh Zayed Road into one giant running track early Friday morning for the annual Dubai Run, the city’s biggest, free-to-enter fun run on the penultimate day of Dubai Fitness Challenge 2021.
Tens of thousands of residents, citizens and visitors woke up before the break of dawn. They headed to the World Trade Centre Metro Station to join in the 5km run route; while those who registered for the 10km route, started from the Emirates Towers Metro Station.
People – running, walking, strutting, dancing, hopping – not cars occupied Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s major highway. It was closed for motorists from 4am – from Dubai World Trade Centre roundabout until the first interchange at Dubai Mall bridge –and will remain closed until 9am on Friday. Authorities advised motorists to take alternative roads, including Al Khail Road via the upper Financial Centre Road and Al Wasl Road via Al Safa Street.
Both sides of the Lower Financial Centre Road will be closed for six hours from 4am to 10am. Alternate road is the Upper Financial Centre Road. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard will be also be closed for six hours - from 4am to 10am - and motorists can take Burj Khalifa Street as alternative.
Al Mustaqbal Street, between 2nd Za'abeel Road and Financial Centre Road, will be closed until 10.30am and alternate roads are Al Sukouk Street and Al Boursa Street.
Fun and healthy
Tens of thousands of people took part in the Dubai Run, with a 5km route designed specifically for families and a 10km route for recreational and professional runners.
Participants arrived as early as 3am to be on the frontlines at the starting point and to make the most of this fun-filled experience. Both the 5km and 10km routes started near Museum of the Future and finish line is near Dubai World Trade Centre, with the longer route also taking in The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa routes.
Aside from having fun on a cool and breezy morning, promoting a healthy lifestyle was one main reasons why people signed up for Dubai Run. Filipino expat Jennilyn Encila, 28, said today (November 26) was her third time to join in the fun run and maintaining an active lifestyle made her join the run.
Indian expat Mustafa Bangerda, 24, meanwhile, joined for the first time. He told Gulf News he was happy to wake up early and have fun with friends as they ran on Sheikh Zayed Road.
‘A family that runs together have fun together’ was the comment by 71-year-old Suseela Ambujakshan, who hails from Kerala.
She told Gulf News: “I have been in Dubai with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in the last 15 years. It has always been my dream to run as a family and I thank this beautiful city of Dubai for making it happen. It (Dubai Run) was an exciting experience and I look forward to participating in more such events.”
It was also a family affair for Armenian expat Areg Papoyan, who participated in Dubai Run with his wife Aleksandra Radoshnova, and their three-year old daughter Alicia.
“We’re proud of our three-year old who woke up very early to run with us,” said Papoyan, whose family is joined by a dozen friends and colleagues during the 10km run.
Mark and Rissa Reyes also brought their daughters – 10 and 11 years old – to join in Dubai Run.
Mark told Gulf News: “This (Dubai Run) was like a gift and privilege given to us, Dubai residents. Imagine for one morning, you were given a chance to occupy the middle of Sheikh Zayed Road while taking pictures of the iconic buildings as you run and have fun.”
“This has been a good bonding opportunity for our family,” added Rissa.
Savour the moment
All runners need to complete their run by 9.30am. Organisers said: “Dubai Run is a great way to spend quality time with friends and family, so savour the experience, take plenty of photos and share them on your social feeds, but don’t stop on the route itself or block your fellow runners at any point.
“Stay hydrated and grab some water as you pass by the hydration stations during the run.
“Stay hydrated and grab some water as you pass by the hydration stations during the run. If for any reason you are unable to complete your run, there are multiple points to leave along either route and the marshals on ground will be able to guide you to the nearest Dubai metro station or car park,” organisers said.