The UAE capital has added to its sporting portfolio after organisers announced the first Adnoc Abu Dhabi International Marathon will take place on December 7.
The event has been given Bronze Label status from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), is confident the Abu Dhabi race can achieve Gold Label status - reserved for prestigious races such as the Boston and London marathons - by 2020.
“It has been one of the long missing pillars in our international sporting calendar,” Al Awani said after signing a three-year deal with Adnoc, the national oil company, at the company's headquarters on Tuesday.
“Adnoc is one of the main pillars of our economy and they have been one of the main supporters of all our sporting activities in Abu Dhabi. With their support, we want to achieve the marathon Gold Label in three years.”
Abu Dhabi already hosts several international sporting events including the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. The capital will stage the Fifa Club World Cup for a second successive year in December as well as host the 2019 Asian Cup starting in January.
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According to Al Awani, the inaugural race will see the world’s top 10 men’s and women’s marathon runners take part in the elite field with an estimated 15,000 runners taking part overall.
The RCS Active Team, the organisers for the Milan Marathon, are the event managers and their head of Mass Events, Andrea Trabuio, said he was confident of a memorable first marathon in Abu Dhabi.
“We have just signed the agreement and we’ll have all other details like the prize money, the elite field and many more announcements ready by around September,” he said.
Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, executive office director at Adnoc, added: “We are excited to play a part in bringing such an iconic event to Abu Dhabi.
“Our partnership with the ADSC is built on a shared commitment to elevating the health and well-being of individuals and embodies Adnoc’s historical dedication to supporting the communities in which we operate.”
Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, chairman of General Authority for Sports, added: “It may be the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, but it will be second to none among established international marathons around the world."