Family fun and serious racing at the Zayed Marathon 10K run in Yas Marina

Hundreds of runners turned out to race under Yas Marina Circuit's floodlights in 10K and 5K events.

Many children took part in the 5K race at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday night. Christopher Pike / The National
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ABU DHABI // Runners young and old turned out at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday night for the Zayed Charity Marathon 10K and 5K Run.

The evening race under the Formula One circuit’s floodlights attracted hundreds of runners – from elite athletes to those out to get fit or raise funds for charitable causes.

Many families who came to support their loved ones were captivated not just by the races but by the artists, drummers and clowns at the Entertainment Village.

However, with serious cash prizes on offer – Dh10,000 for the 10K winner and Dh7,000 and Dh5,000 for second and third, respectively – others were more concerned about doing the job on the track. The winner of the men’s race was Taoufik Allam, of Morocco, in a time of 27min 45 sec.

As for Doaa Iraki, 42, she participates in every run she can.

“I love social events. I want to do it every year and I aim to get in the top few, maybe first place. I am insistent,” said the music teacher.

She said she exercises several times a week and is naturally fit, but she hopes her running will rub off on her school pupils.

“I think it encourages my students, and it will reflect on them,” she said.

“Being fit helps me to participate, of course. If I wasn’t trained and able to, I wouldn’t participate.”

Ms Iraki was running in the 5K but, with enough motivation, she said she will soon convince herself to go for the 10K.

Anood Jumah, a 23-year-old Emirati, and a group of her friends, have been in training for the past three months.

“Most importantly, we have willpower. We want to win, but I’m doing it for fun,” she said.

This was her second time participating in a 10K but the first time she had trained and been ready for the distance.

“It is my hobby and I love participating in such events, I will also participate in the coming events,” she said. “My friends, who also run, helped encourage me and they registered, too, which is helpful.”

Her 20-year-old friend, Maitha Saeed, was participating in a race for the first time after encouragement from pals.

“I prepared by not eating as much food. I had to feel lighter to be able to run such a distance. I am flexible and fit, but my diet wasn’t working,” she said.

She said her aim was to continue the race without stopping and to possibly finish in the top five.

“Honestly, after all the training, I expect to win, but we’ll see.”

A policeman, Obaid Salem Al Kitbi, 26, said he was looking forward to the 5K.

“I am very excited and optimistic, and this is a good way to volunteer and encourage others,” he said.

He trained intensively in Al Mamzar walking area in Dubai for the past week, doing a maximum of 8km in one attempt.

“I am 100 per cent ready. It would be great if I came first, great for me to continue. If not, then I will walk home all the way to Sharjah,” he said.

Friends Rolando Lucero, 33, and 30-year-old Mark Anthony, who work for the National Marine Dredging Company, said their employer encourages them to participate in such events. A total of 50 of them registered for the race.

“We play basketball with the company as well, so this is easy,” said Mr Lucero.

The pair have trained for two nights for the big day and are ready to run the 5K.

Alex Perakis, 46, said he often ran on a treadmill and worked out several times a week.

He recently began running marathons, his last being the Dubai Marathon on January 24.

“I’m usually running every day, so this should be easy. I run most days, but today it’s a different experience,” he said.

Mr Perakis’s target was to finish the 10K in 55 minutes.

The Yas event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The Armed Forces Officers Club and Emirates Medical Association Nephrology Society organised the event in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.