Amateur athletes run to the hills for UAE trail running event

While there are official trail races in other countries in the region – such as the Wadi Bih Run in Dibba, Oman – this is believed to be the first of its kind in the UAE.
A group of trail runners set a fast pace as they wind their way through the rocky terrain of Showka Hill. Antonie Robertson / The National
A group of trail runners set a fast pace as they wind their way through the rocky terrain of Showka Hill. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // A group of about 50 amateur athletes took to the rocky hills near Showka Dam early yesterday as part of an effort to make trail running a more popular sport in the country.

Lee Harris, the founder of Dubai Trail Running Group, said The North Face Trail Running Event was organised to advocate the joys of running in natural surroundings. “We want to try and get more people out here and show them the trails. The UAE has such a great outdoor life with the deserts and the trails, which go on for hundreds of kilometres,” he said.

“You are not tied to the city and I want people to realise that. You can come out and have an amazing time in the middle of the mountains. It is good for the body and good for the mind.”

While there are official trail races in other countries in the region – such as the Wadi Bih Run in Dibba, Oman – this is believed to be the first of its kind in the UAE.

At 5.30am, most runners were stretching and gearing up for the 12.5-kilometre course, while a handful of ultra-fit runners were taking on a 25km run.

Reshma Beeranthbail and Roohi Hamlani said they were excited to take part in the 12.5km run and have fun. “I’m not sure how long it’s going to take us, it really depends on whether we stop to take pictures,” said Ms Beeranthbail. “I’ll probably be one of the slower ones, but we’re basically doing this for fun, it’s not a race.”

Ms Hamlani said she would be running the course at a steady pace. “I’m not here to really push it,” she said. “I run with another club and I wanted to do something different, which is when we discovered Lee.”

Asterid Gercke and Lynne Durell, both of whom have lived in the UAE for more than six years, said they had taken part in other official running events and were looking forward to running cross-country.

“This is the first time I have done something like this, trail running,” said Ms Gercke.

Ms Durell said: “I always do the Wadi Bih Run, which is an annual event of about 80km through the mountains. This is the only event besides Wadi Bih that’s on a trail site. Everything else in the UAE is on the roads or are marathons. It’s very nice to see another trail event.”

Stuart Walkers and Peter Robinson were also running the 12.5km course and were looking forward to trying something new. “This is our first time doing the trail run, and the first time we have run with Lee,” said Mr Walkers.

Mr Robinson said: “It’s nice to see a range of ages and different people. Because this is our first [time], we are uncertain about how difficult it’ll be.”

At about 8.15am, the first group of runners approached the finish line. Eden Uy, a first-time runner, said the experience made her want to practise to achieve a faster timing at the next event. “This is something I will definitely do again. It is wonderful to see people get together and go on these social runs, where others can help you and give you tips,” she said.

The event was hosted by The North Face in partnership with Dubai Trail Running Group.

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae

Published: May 17, 2014 04:00 AM

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