Dubai: More than 193,000 runners took part in the Dubai Run 2022, announced Sheikh Hamdan Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, after the world’s largest free run Sunday morning.
“Over 193,000 ran together, thank you #Dubai,” Sheikh Hamdan said in an Instagram post hours after leading the sea of runners down Sheikh Zayed Road.
“Thank you all. Let’s make it over 200,000 next year Dubai,” he said in another post on his Instagram Story.
The fourth edition of Dubai Run, the flagship event of the Dubai Fitness Challenge, thus saw 47,000 more people than its 2021 edition which saw a total of 146,000 runners participate even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest free fun race in the world
The Dubai Metro began operating from 3:30 a.m. to bring Dubai Run participants to the event. 5K participants can arrive via Emirates Towers or Financial Center stations, while 10K participants arrived via World Trade Center station or Max station. Leaving their homes well in advance, participants arrived alone, as a couple, as a family and as a group and reunited within hours.
Runners, joggers and walkers formed a sea of green and followed Sheikh Hamdan as he kicked off the Dubai Run 2022 at 6.30am. While professional runners and a few new running enthusiasts put all their energy into completing the 10km course, it was a feast for many fitness enthusiasts who soaked up all the fun of walking, strolling and running. run the 5 km course.
Sheikh Zayed Road was closed to motorists from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Those who took the 5km course started on Sheikh Zayed Road near the Museum of the Future, passed by Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Opera and finished the race near the Dubai Mall. Participants in the 10km course followed Sheikh Zayed Road to the Dubai Canal, then back to the Trade Center before ending on Al Mustaqbal Street near DIFC. Aid stations have been set up along the routes to help participants stay hydrated.
People cheered as they saw their fitness hero Sheikh Hamdan join the runners again. To their delight, Sheikh Hamdan shook hands with some and waved at others.
Flashing moving lights, applause and cheers, men, women and children of all ages joined the world’s largest free run, showing Dubai’s spirit of being an active city. As families joined in large numbers, many were spotted carrying their toddlers on their shoulders and some pushing pushchairs of younger ones.
Taking selfies, ‘groufies’ along Dubai’s iconic landmarks, the 5k race participants had even more fun. The music kept many people entertained throughout their run and walk.
First experience for great-grandmother
Among the elderly who took part to inspire younger generations was Indian great-grandmother Pulikkal Fathima, who is due to celebrate her 70th birthday next month.
She participated in the 5km race with her son Shabeer Abu, a project manager in Dubai, her daughter-in-law Shahina Shabeer, who works in real estate and her school-going grandchildren Shiba, Shebin, Shebeeh.
A mother of three, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of three, Fathima said she was determined to complete the 5km course despite feeling a little tired.
“I regularly go for a walk or swim. The need to be active and fit is something I had learned from my husband who worked in the Indian Navy. I kept doing it even after losing it. There will be many ups and downs in life, but we need to take care of our health and be active physically and in our social life,” she said.
The whole family left the Dubai Land home around 3 a.m. to make sure they arrived well in advance for the race which saw tens of thousands jump on the Dubai Metro to reach Sheikh Zayed Road .
“It’s a very special experience in my life. It’s the first time I see so many people together and everyone came together for a cause. It’s great to see that Sheikh Hamdan brought together so many people of all ages for the cause of fitness,” Fathima said.
Ran with knee pad
It was the second time Jordanian expat Zeina Jaradat took part in the Dubai Run. “It was fantastic. I liked it. We could feel it was more crowded than last year,” said the entrepreneur who runs an e-commerce business.
“Last year, I did the 5km and I wanted to level up and I signed up for the 10km. But, I injured my knee during my training and my instructor advised me not to run 10 km,” said Jaradat, who came wearing a knee brace.
While her husband Yohaan Freits and 14-year-old daughter Vivian completed the 10km in an hour, Jaradat was content to run, not just walk, the 5km course in 40 minutes.
The family who participated in Dubai Ride also appreciated Sheikh Hamdan’s initiative to encourage health and fitness among residents. “It’s a month we’ve all been looking forward to. We have so many fitness activities to do during the Dubai Fitness Challenge. It’s a lot of fun and the benefits are many.
Canadian Shaista Mamdani and her nine-year-old daughter, Sana, also took part in the Dubai Run for the second time.
“We ran last year, but decided to walk this time because my daughter was feeling tired. Last year, it was a little more spaced out and we wore our masks on the metro and took them off while running. This year we didn’t have to wear the masks but I spotted a few who were still wearing them.
Mamdani said it was heartening to see Sheikh Hamdan return to Dubai Run time after time to lead the residents. Appreciating her fitness initiative, she said, “I love being in Dubai at this time of year. It’s such a beautiful city with so many activities to do. We go to Kite Beach Fitness Village to participate in various activities and exercises.”