Runners climb the stairs of 52-storey Jumeirah Emirates Towers during the Dubai Holding SkyRun on Friday. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Hundreds of people ran up 52 floors of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai on Friday to support Al Jalila Foundation’s obesity research.

All funds raised during the Dubai Holding SkyRun will support the foundation’s research into the disease, which is a major concern in the UAE and region.

An estimated 4.8 million UAE residents — nearly half of the population — are overweight.

The final amount raised was not immediately announced but over the past few years the annual event has contributed Dh615,000 to the foundation.

Friday’s race saw 363 people — the most in its 14-year history — ran up 1,334 steps in the office skyscraper.

Polish runner Piotr Lobodzinski set a new record by dashing up the 265-metre-stairwell in seven minutes and 18 seconds, beating last year’s best time by 18 seconds.

In comparison, it took many people well over 20 minutes to reach the top — enough time for Lobodzinski to run up the whole way three times over.

The 30-year-old, who works in the Museum of Polish History in Warsaw, described stair-running as “pain from beginning to end” when compared to running on flat ground.

In the women’s category, Australian accountant Suzy Walsham, a former track runner, won the race in eight minutes and 30 seconds. “It’s pretty rough ... I do these runs all over the world,” she said.

Meanwhile, the team with the shortest average time was Talise Fitness JBH, which clocked in 12 minutes and six seconds.

Participants included everyday residents, international athletes and corporate teams.

“It was hard; you keep counting the floors to see how many are left. But it was a nice experience; people were encouraging each other to keep going,” said Dubai resident Krishnan Muthurathinam, 33, from India, who finished in “around 22 minutes”.

Previously known as the Dubai Holding Vertical Marathon, the SkyRun is now part of the Vertical World Circuit of skyscraper runs in iconic towers in famous cities.

Cedric Betis, chairman of Dubai Holding Wellness Committee, said, “The resounding success of this run has helped us extend the impact of the Dubai Holding Corporate Wellness Programme to the health and well-being of the wider community for years to come.”

Dr Abdul Karim Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said the event “complements the positive steps that companies like Dubai Holding are taking to foster a fitter, healthier and more productive workforce and community”.

The SkyRun was organised by Talise Fitness.