Thousands unleash their inner warrior to tackle UAE’s second Spartan Race

Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, was among those taking part in the expanded obstacle challenge this year.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, attended the second Spartan Race in Dubai on Friday. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed,

Crown Prince of Dubai, joined about 5,000 participants of different age groups and nationalities taking part in the event. WAM
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DUBAI // Running through deep sand and mud, wading through water and ignoring their fear of heights, about 5,000 brave souls yesterday tackled the UAE’s second Spartan Warrior Race.

The race, which began last year with a five-kilometre course, this year added a 13km route with 30 obstacles for the more adventurous and a 1.8km race with 12 for juniors. The 5km race had 20 obstacles.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, was there to cheer on Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Dubai’s Crown Prince, who took to the sands to do the 13km event, which was held at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “Sport should be the everyday culture of every member of society and the lifestyle we live and practise daily, because it refines a person’s soul, body and behaviour, regardless of sex or age.

“Sport should also be an important part of our daily agenda as people who care about our health and the safety of our bodies and our happiness.”

Camilla Siedlecka, from Poland, and her two daughters, six and eight, took part in the race.

It was Ms Siedlecka’s fourth obstacle race, having done others around the UAE. After completing the 5km race last year, this year she took on the full 13.

It was a first experience for youngest daughter Zuzanna. “It was good but I needed to run a lot,” she said.

“We needed to run in the mud, crawl under nets and I cried because I got so much heavy sand in my shoes and it was very hard,” said Zuzanna, who succesfully completed the course.

Ms Siedlecka said: “I ran it alongside both of them and, I must say, it was difficult for the small kids.”

She said she encouraged her children to participate in such events “to instill a sporty attitude in them”.

“I like to do the event, too, because this way, they can see me and they can get motivated when it’s all of us together. It’s difficult, but it’s fun,” she said.

Javad Khoramifar is the marketing director for XDubai, the organisers of the event. He said the participation of Sheikh Hamdan sent out a powerful message.

“He is a role model, so having him participate in such an event not only sends out the message that he’s walking the walk but it’s an indicator message that sport and being fit is important,” Mr Khoramifar said.

Emirati Nuha Al Marri, 28, was the only woman in a group of four who competed together. This was her first such event and she said it was a learning experience.

The full-time CrossFit athlete left her job to focus on the sport she loves, but said running such distances and through such terrain was her weakness.

“It was fun, other than the high obstacles, because I’m scared of heights. I had to get over my fear,” she said.

“It’s nice to get out of your comfort zone and do something different. It’s physical and mental.”

Ali Manzoor, 31, was one of dozens of du employees who took part in the race.

The Pakistani expatriate usually runs 5km or 6km a day but on a treadmill or firm outdoor terrain, and said the sandy conditions underfoot were challenging.

“It was good, but tough,” he said. His usual 35-minute maximum time for 5km took him closer to 90 minutes as he jumped and climbed and waded through water at the course.

“It’s something fun that gets people doing something active, which they wouldn’t normally do necessarily,” he said. “Many of the people from our company aren’t really active but they’ve taken part just because it’s a fun thing to do as a group.”