Dubai: More than 193,000 runners took part in Dubai Run 2022, Sheikh Hamdan Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai announced after the world’s largest free fun run on Sunday morning.
“More than 193,000 ran together-thank you #Dubai,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a post on Instagram within hours after leading the sea of runners on Sheikh Zayed Road.
"Thank you all. Let's make it more than 200,000 next year, Dubai," he said in another post on his Instagram story.
The fourth edition of Dubai Run, the flagship event of Dubai Fitness Challenge, has thus witnessed 47,000 more people than its 2021 edition which saw a total of 146,000 runners taking part even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
World’s largest free fun run
Dubai Metro started operating from 3.30 am to ply the participants of Dubai Run to the event. Participants in the 5km can arrived via the Emirates Towers or the Financial Centre stations, while participants in the 10km arrived via the World Trade Centre station or the Max station. Leaving home well in advance, participants came in as singles, pairs, families and groups and gathered in a couple of hours.
Runners, joggers and walkers formed a sea of green and followed Sheikh Hamdan as he kicked off Dubai Run 2022 at 6:30am. While professional runners and some new running enthusiasts put in all the energy to complete the 10km route, it was a jamboree for many fitness enthusiasts who soaked up all the fun of walking, strolling and running on the 5km route.
Sheikh Zayed Road was closed for motorists from 4am to 10am. Those who took the 5km route began on Sheikh Zayed Road near the Museum of the Future, passed by Burj Khalifa and Dubai Opera and ended the run near Dubai Mall. Participants of the 10km route followed Sheikh Zayed Road to the Dubai Canal, then returned towards the Trade Centre before ending on Al Mustaqbal Street near DIFC. Refreshment stations were set up along the routes to help participants hydrate themselves.
People cheered as they spotted their fitness hero Sheikh Hamdan joining the runners once again. Much to their delight, Sheikh Hamdan shook hands with some and waved at others.
Flashing mobile lights, clapping and cheering, men, women and children of all ages joined the world's largest free fun run, displaying Dubai's spirit of being an active city. As families joined in huge numbers, many were spotted carrying their toddlers on their shoulders and some pushing strollers of younger ones.
Taking selfies, 'groufies' along the iconic landmarks of Dubai, participants in the 5km run had more fun. Music kept many entertained all along their run and walk.
First experience for great grandma
Among the elderly who took part to inspire the younger generations was Indian great-grandmother Pulikkal Fathima, who is due to celebrate her 70th birthday next month.
She took part in the 5km run with her son Shabeer Abu, a project manager in Dubai, daughter-in-law Shahina Shabeer, who works in real estate and school-going grandchildren Shiba, Shebin, Shebeeh.
Mother of three, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of three, Fathima said she was determined to complete the 5km route despite feeling a little tired.
“I regularly go for walking or swimming. The need to be active and fit is something that I had learnt from my husband who used to work in Indian Navy. I have continued to do that even after losing him. There will be many ups and downs in life, but we must take care of our health and be active physically and in our social life,” she said.
The entire family left home from Dubai Land around 3am to make sure they reach well in advance for the run that saw tens of thousands hopping on to Dubai Metro to reach Sheikh Zayed Road.
“This is a very special experience in my life. This is the first time that I am seeing so many people together and everyone has come together for a cause. It is so great to see that Sheikh Hamdan has united so many people of all ages for the cause of fitness,” said Fathima.
Ran with knee support
It was the second time that Jordanian expat Zeina Jaradat took part in Dubai Run. “It was fantastic. I loved it. We could feel that there were more people than last year,” said the entrepreneur running an e-commerce business.
“Last year, I did the 5km and I wanted to upgrade myself and registered for the 10km. But, I hurt my knee during my workout and my instructor advised me not to run 10km,” said Jaradat, who came wearing a knee support.
While her husband Yohaan Freits and his 14-year-old daughter Vivian completed the 10km run in one hour, Jaradat satisfied herself by ensuring she ran, not just walked, the 5km route in 40 minutes.
The family that took part in Dubai Ride as well appreciated Sheikh Hamdan’s initiative to encourage health and fitness among residents. “It is a month that we all look forward to. We have so many fitness activities to take part during Dubai Fitness Challenge. It is a lot of fun and the benefits are many.”
Canadian Shaista Mamdani and nine-year-old daughter Sana also took part in Dubai Run for the second time.
“We ran last year, but we decided to walk this time as my daughter was feeling tired. Last year, it was a little bit more spaced out and we wore our masks on the metro and we took them off while running. This year, we didn’t have to wear the masks but I spotted a few still wearing them.”
Mamdani said it was heartening to see Sheikh Hamdan returning to Dubai Run every time to lead the residents. Appreciating his fitness initiative, she said: “I love being in Dubai at this time of the year. It is such a great city with so many activities to take part. We go to Kite Beach Fitness Village for participating in various activities and exercises.”