Ready, set, go: a rundown of all the races and fitness events coming up in the UAE

Gear up for sports season, as the UAE offers an action-packed fitness calendar for the cooler months ahead

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES- Elite runners warming up before the race at the ADNOC ABU Abu Dhabi Marathon.  Leslie Pableo for The National

Winter in the UAE marks the beginning of the region’s sporting season – and this year, it promises to be an action-packed line-up.

With Expo 2020 Dubai under way, Dubai Fitness Challenge set to begin, and a number of scheduled races and fitness events, it’s time to lace up those sneakers and hit the gym.

Here’s a look at some sporting events that are on the horizon, to get you motivated.

Jeep Tough Mudder, November 13, December 10, January 28

The world-famous obstacle race course – known for testing the foundations of teamwork and community – is back, with three events coming up. Jeep Tough Mudder will take place in Hatta on Saturday, November 13, Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudiyarat Island on Friday, December 10, and Fujairah Adventures Park on Friday, January 28. Mudders can expect a return to many of its popular challenges including the Pyramid Scheme that requires teamwork to scramble up a slippery slope, Spread Eagle, a tightrope challenge over water, and the Cage Crawl, where participants cling overhead to keep moving over 152 centimetres of water. There will be two course routes to choose from: the Jeep Tough Mudder 5K, which includes more than 13 obstacles on a 5km route, and the Jeep Tough Mudder Classic, which hosts 25-plus obstacles on a 10km route.

Saturday, November 13; Friday, December 10; Friday, January 28; entry from Dh257 for Tough Mudder 5K, ages 13+ and Dh312 for Tough Mudder Classic;

Expo 2020 Dubai Run, November 19

A new – and once-in-a-lifetime – event coming to Dubai’s race calendar this year is the Expo 2020 Dubai Run. It will take participants across the world fair's pavilions and allow them to admire the stunning architecture on foot. There will be three options, with 3km, 5km and 10km routes, and all participants will receive free entry to Expo 2020 for the run day, a custom T-shirt, medal, goody bags, chip timings and a digital certificate.

Friday, November 19; 7am onwards; from Dh50; Expo 2020 site;

Spartan Trail Arabia, November 20, January 14, March 4, March 25

Spartan Trail Arabia is coming to the UAE for the first time, with four running events planned across some of the UAE's most famous settings.

The event kicks off with Hatta’s Wadi Hub on Saturday, November 20, with 10km and 21km routes available. The first event of 2022 will be held on Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudayriat Island on Friday, January 14 and has a 10km and 21km course route.

People will also be able to sign up for a 10km, 21km or 50km course route in Ras Al Khaimah’s Jebel Jais on Friday, March 4, and a 10km and 21km course route at Fujairah Adventure Park on Friday, March 25.

The races will take participants through mountain trails and stunning wadis. The top three competitors of each event will have the chance to claim prize money starting at $100, and all participants will receive a finisher T-shirt and medal. Participants of the 2022 events will also get the chance to earn the highly sought after Spartan Trail Arabia Trifecta medal.

Saturday, November 20; Friday, January 14; Friday, March 4; Friday, March 25; Dh915 ($249);

Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon, November 26

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES- Finisher at the ADNOC ABU Abu Dhabi Marathon.  Leslie Pableo for The National

One of the biggest events on the UAE sporting calendar, the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon was cancelled in 2020 owing to the pandemic, but is back again with a bang. This year, it will feature expanded age categories, with those between 6 and 70 allowed to participate. Families can sign up for the 2.5km or 5km runs, while there are more challenging 10km, full 42.2km marathon races and – new for the year – a marathon relay for teams of two. No matter the distance you sign up for, you’ll get to run along Abu Dhabi’s picturesque Corniche and loop around Qasr Al Hosn, one of the city’s most beautiful historical buildings. Winners of the elite men's and women's races take home $50,000 (Dh183,000) while there’s a $30,000 (Dh1,10,000) prize for those who break the current course record of 2hrs:04min:40sec for men and 2:21:01 for the women. All runners aged 16 to 70 must be vaccinated to participate, while those under 16 will need to show a negative PCR test, taken 48 hours before the event.

Friday, November 26; Dh350 for marathon, Dh550 for marathon relay, teams of two, Dh150 for 10km run, Dh75 for 5km run, Dh50 for the not-times 2.5km run; registrations open now at

DFC Santa Run, December 10

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 11, 2020: People take part in the Santa fun run at Dubai festival city. Friday, December 11th, 2020 in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Now in its third year, the Dubai Festival City Santa run is back to make sure everyone has a jolly good time. There will be three options for the untimed run – 1km, 2.5k and 5km. All participants get a finisher medal and a prize for the best costume.

Friday, December 10; 8.45am; Dh125 plus VAT;

Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge, February 18

Calling all cyclists! The Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge is back in February 2022. Cyclists can now reserve a place for the 92km race journey. This year, event organisers have planned a shorter course ride for first-timers, as well as a post-event race village for the riders, friends and family to enjoy. And if you need help preparing for the big day, there’s also a series of build-up rides planned at Al Qudra Cycle Track to help you get into shape. There will also be junior rides for children aged 2 to 15.

Friday, February 18; 6.15am onwards; Dh325 for the main event, Dh160 for the short course; venue to be announced;

Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, February 18

The 15th annual Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon is back, and will take place on Friday, February 18, on the picturesque Al Marjan Island. Participants can register now for the event organised by RCS Sports and Events, and choose from four categories, with early bird prices from Dh295 for the half marathon, Dh500 for the two-person half marathon relay, Dh80 for the 5km, and Dh50 for the 1km fun run. Runners can expect gorgeous views of the ocean, framed by white sandy beaches on their run. This year, the event will also introduce new experiences such as VIP packages that include hotel stays, a special bag drop area and priority entrance to the starting line, if you want to turn this into a weekend or staycation experience.

Friday, February 18; 7am onwards; from Dh50; registrations now open; Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah;

Updated: November 14th 2021, 12:50 PM