Dubai Run: Sheikh Zayed Road taken over by thousands of runners

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed and fitness enthusiasts gathered on Dubai's busiest road in the early hours of Friday

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Before daybreak on Friday, thousands gathered in the name of fitness at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), ready to turn the city’s main artery – Sheikh Zayed Road – into a running track.

Runners from all nationalities and ages were there for the Dubai Run 30x30, which is part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge.

It was the first time that a section of the 14-lane highway was closed off for an event, which included a 5km fun run and 10km race that kicked off at 6:30am.

Both routes started at DWTC. Runners for the 10km race made their way south for 2.5km towards the Burj Khalifa, circling Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard and moving through Happiness Street before returning to the trade centre.

The 5km runners got to stay on Sheikh Zayed Road a little longer, running down the highway for 5km before turning towards the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to Emirates Towers and Happiness Street, then back to DWTC.

The mood for the 5km fun run was jovial, with children as young as eight joining in and crowds cheering from the side.

The 10km race was limited to running enthusiasts above the age of 18, and needed to complete the course in 80 minutes. Winners of men’s race are Samir Jouaher in first, Anouar El Ghouz and Mohammed Mira in second and third respectively. For the women's race, Refref Mohammed finished first, followed by, Fanos Tekle and Joyce Balle Baako.

Sheikh Hamdan joins in

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, also joined the race. The Dubai crown prince shared scenes from his run on his Instagram stories and Snapchat. In 2017, he launched the Dubai Fitness Challenge to promote healthier lifestyles and to make Dubai "one of the most active cities in the world."

Runners share their experience

Alishya Carvalho at the Dubai Run, part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge. Courtesy of Alishya Carvalho

Alishya Carvalho, a marketing manager, described her experience as "exhilarating". "It's the first time that a run would be held on Sheikh Zayed Road, and I wanted to be part of that," she said, adding that she is not a runner, but began training a week before the event to build some stamina to complete the 5km route. "After this experience, I'm definitely going to continue running."

Lindsay Johnston, who participated in the 5km fun run. Courtesy Lindsay Johnston

"It was really well organised, and running down Sheikh Zayed Road was an incredible moment. I will always think of it when I drive down SZR now," said Lindsay Johnston from Scotland. "It was nice to see all walks of life too."