DUBAI // A sea of fluorescent green filled Downtown Dubai on Friday morning as thousands of people took part in the 10K Nike We Run DXB race.
Looping around some of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks, 8,000 people ranging from complete beginners to seasoned athletes padded the tarmac as the winter sun rose.
Starting and finishing near the Armani Hotel those taking part had to run the course along Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard wearing the green T-shirts provided by the sportswear giant.
Lee Devon, general manager for Nike at Sun and Sand Sport, was delighted with the turnout.
“It’s just fantastic to see so many people from so many different backgrounds and cultures taking part today,” he said.
“It’s a real reflection of the people and community in Dubai and that is wonderful.”
Demand was so high for the race that registration closed 10 days early as all the spaces were taken, he said.
“We first held the event on the Palm in 2012 and had about 4,000 people take part then, so to see that number double to 8,000 this year has been amazing,” said Mr Devon.
“We are really trying to encourage people to lead more healthy and active lifestyles and to see so many people here today means that message is getting across.”
Although no formal plans are in place to make the event an annual race in Dubai, the organiser’s are keeping an open mind. After first launching in 2012, the race took a break last year before returning this year.
“Once this race is done, we’ll take some time and analyse to see how it went, to see where we can go from here,” said Mr Devon.
“We wanted to select an iconic location for the runners and make it something to remember and I think we have achieved that.”
Brazilian Gustavo Netto, 26, completed the race in a time of about 39 minutes and was happy with how it went.
“It’s been an amazing event right from the early morning build-up up to the actual race itself,” he said.
“I actually do vertical marathons and won the Dubai event in 2011, so this was a nice change of pace for me.
“I haven’t done a marathon on the road and it might be something I would do in future but I’m happy with my time and it’s something I can build on.”
An early morning build-up from 6am saw a DJ getting the runners in the mood, as well as a physical warm-up before the race started at 7.30am.
Maher Tarazi, 37, from Australia, works in risk management and was delighted with his time of 46 minutes and 46 seconds.
“My aim before the event was to do it in under 50 minutes so I’ve done that and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
“I’m going to be running the 10K at the Dubai Marathon as well, so this is great preparation for that.”
He urged organisers to make the race an annual event.
Palestinian Lara Mansour, 28, a sales executive, took part with her friend Nadim Khairallah, 28, from Lebanon, and travelled from Abu Dhabi the night before the race.
“They picked the best place in Dubai to hold the race,” said Ms Mansour.
“There was a great atmosphere at the start and a nice, fun vibe throughout.
“We’re actually going to be doing the full Dubai Marathon, so this was a good way to train for that as well.”
For Mr Khairallah, running is an important way to relax.
“I’ve been running regularly for about four years now and it’s a form of meditation for me,” he said.
“When you’re running it’s just you and the road and you can forget the stress from work. I love it.”
Indians Swathi Bahuleyan, 25, Merlin Varkey Thomas, 24, and Preeja Anthraper, 24, were excited during the pre-race build-up but also felt an element of trepidation.
“We haven’t really been training that much for this event, so let’s see how it goes,” said Ms Bahuleyan, who works as an engineer.
“I think we are just going to take our time and see how we go.”
For Ms Thomas, a banker, the aim was to maintain a manageable pace.
“I think the temptation for a lot of people is to charge out and then they run out of steam but, hopefully, we can stick to a speed that we can do throughout.”
We Run DXB is part of the global Nike We Run series hosted by 14 cities across Europe, Latin America and Asia and ranging in distances from 7K to a full marathon.
Published: December 19, 2014 04:00 AM