This Dubai resident is planning to run 200 kilometres in the desert this weekend

Akber Naqvi is doing the run on Friday to raise awareness for the ZB Foundation, an NGO in Pakistan

Dubai resident Akber Naqvi will attempt to run 200 kilometres on Friday, August 28. Supplied

Simply being outside during the peak summer months can seem daunting when living in the UAE. Running 200 kilometres in these temperatures sounds about impossible.

And yet that is exactly what Dubai resident Akber Naqvi is planning to do on Friday.

The founder of Zasar Technology is no stranger to taking part in challenging, endurance-testing sporting events. Last year, he participated in Marathon des Sables, a 250km run in the Sahara that is widely considered one of the toughest races in the world.

That same year, he took part in Oman by UTMB, a 130km run across the Hajjar Mountains.

Not one to slow down, Naqvi was supposed to take part in the UTMB Mont Blanc, a mountain ultramarathon taking place in Chamonix, France, on Friday, August 28. He had been training for the rigorous 170km event for months. However, when it got cancelled owing to the coronavirus in May, he decided to redirect his energy into another personal challenge.

"Training, in itself, offers a lot of advantages. It's given a lot of structure to my life; made me a stronger individual," he tells The National. "However, it helps to have a goal in mind – I always knew I was going to do something on August 28. A month before, this is what we decided to do."

“This” is a 200km run through the Dubai desert, along Al Qudra cycle track. He plans to start at 6am on Friday and keep running until the distance is covered. He acknowledges that could mean he will be moving well into the next day (or the one after that) and that it might also mean sleepless nights. He also accepts that it will not be a continuous run, but broken up by periods of walking when needed.

Naqvi will have to drink one litre of water every few kilometres, and also need water poured over his head to keep his core temperature down in the summer heat. Supplied

The real challenge is completing the run in the 40°C weather that the UAE is currently experiencing.

"It's going to be very intense. Every few kilometres, I'll have to drink one to 1.5 litres of water. I will also have a bucket of water poured over my head to keep the core temperature down," says Naqvi, who will be assisted by a support system car moving alongside him.

Naqvi has been working on getting his body acclimatised to the heat in anticipation of this race, with help from the team behind InnerFight Endurance.

Training sessions began with early morning runs (when the weather is a bit cooler). However, over the past month, he has been running for about an hour outdoors at noon. "At weekends, I go to Al Qudra to train during the hottest time of the day," he says. "As with any training, it's all about your body and mind adapting."

At the end of the day, it’s all been worth it, though, he says. Other than the benefits and structure the training sessions have brought to his life, he’s doing it to inspire his children and be a role model for them.

As with all of his races, Naqvi is doing it to raise awareness for the ZB Foundation, an NGO he founded in Pakistan with wife, Danielle Wilson Naqvi.

The NGO was started in memory of their adopted baby daughter who didn't survive her first year. It provides newborn screening at hospitals in the country, with a focus on the heel-prick test.

“That’s been our mission – to raise awareness and create that infrastructure so babies can have access to this service,” he says.