Meet the superstar runners of Dubai


Meet the superstar runners of Dubai

Published: Wed 24 Jan 2018, 3:35 PM

Last updated: Sun 28 Jan 2018, 1:39 PM

THE STANDARD CHARTERED Dubai Marathon 2018 is just a few hours away, taking place this Friday, January 26. Runners from  the UAE and across the world will take over the Jumeirah stretch from morning until noon. Some will run for fun, some for charity, some for the personal goal that they have set for themselves and many will run just to experience the pure joy of running.  
There's a big chunk of runners in this region who do long distance running. It is beyond the understanding of many people as to why anyone would torture their body by running for 42 kilometers (and also pay for the registration!) But only long-distance runners understand the pain and pleasure of this form of running.  For those running the marathon for the first time, yes, your body will hurt. Yes, your legs will be sore for days but it will be a life-changing experience for you. To get some perspective on why some people love running like many do, we spoke to some passionate and dedicated runners from Dubai who come from different age categories and background but are connected by a common love for running.

Rajesh Daryani

Rajesh came to Dubai in 1999 and worked as a supervisor in a construction company. A few years after switching to sales, his life became comfortable and he got used to mindless eating and smoking. He accumulated 97 kilos and smoked a pack of cigarettes every day before he took up running and made a positive and inspiring change in his life.

How many marathons?
7 half, 16 full, 3 barefoot and 3 ultra-marathons, 2 DNF (did not finish). Next attempt is Wadi Bih, a 72k trail run on February 2.

Love for running
In 2009, I realised that my body was growing obnoxiously, hence, I started running in Sharjah. I googled Dubai Creek Striders (DCS) and read that I must be able to run 10k to join their weekly runs. For many weeks, I was the last runner in the social group. Malcolm Murphy would come to sweep me and he told me 'keep showing up every Friday and you'll be okay'. I ran the first marathon in 2010. It was a life-changing moment for me. Running the marathon did not change my life because I never dreamed of running one. Joining DCS changed my life because it made me believe that I can run or do whatever I decide to. Running helped me lose weight, quit smoking and I developed a higher level of confidence. It started re-fueling my latent desire to become an entrepreneur and I dared to quit my well-paying, secure job in 2011 to become an entrepreneur.

This is why I run barefoot
In 2012, I came across a book Born to Run by Cristopher McDougall. I liked the concept behind minimalistic running and decided to try running in a natural way. From well-cushioned shoes, I moved to 'five fingers' then to 'running sandals' and to barefoot. I enjoy barefoot running as it gives me an immense sense of freedom. Running has become a way of life; for me, a lot of learning and reflection happen during runs which helps me at work and home. I have made friends with many members of the club and I am proud to be associated with DCS as a committee member trying to do my bit for the club runners.

Marathons during holidays
My wife is a natural runner and for 3 years, we plan our holidays around marathons and do a couple of races every year. It sometimes becomes difficult for us to explain to our kids why we always spend our holidays running marathons and weekends either training or supporting a running event.

By Arti Dani

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Mamta Daryani

Mamta is a homemaker, an amazing cook and always willing to help other runners

How many marathons?
13 half, 8 full and 5 ultra marathons. Next attempt is Wadi Bih, a 72k trail run on Feb 2.

How I fell in love with running
I started considering running when I saw the difference it made in my husband's life but being a mother of 2 and with no help at hand, I found it difficult to train. I stepped out from my comfort zone after my younger one turned 2 in March 2012. I started slowly with a walk and then took to running and trained for a year to run half and then a full marathon in 2013.

Social time while running
Rajesh encouraged me to pick up running, he keeps motivating me. During my training, I got introduced to Dubai Creek Striders (DCS). I felt so welcomed by the club that I started looking forward to my long training runs on Fridays. I particularly love the social group because we chat and laugh a lot and it seems like running happens automatically. Sweeping slow and new runners is another unique practice followed in the social group which helps new runners step up their distance.

Minimalist footwear
I run in 'five fingers' and would like to stick to minimalist footwear.
Satyanarayan Sundaram

Satya works for Domino's UK limited and you will often see him running the streets of Dubai on Friday mornings.

How many marathons?  
9 Marathons and he has lost count of the half marathons!

Running since 1988 in Dubai
After coming to Dubai in 1988, a colleauge, introduced me to Dubai Road Runners' Predictor Runs - they organise a run every Saturday night. Graham Rafferty, a marathoner and responsible for grooming many runners in Dubai, gave me a lot of encouragement  and it helped me to change from a middle distance runner to a long distance runner.

First Marathon at 49
I am 62 now. I finished my first Marathon when I was 49. When the Canal work started, DRR moved to Jumeirah Beach and I started running with Dubai Creek Striders. I have done nine full marathons so far, including one in Chennai and three  in Mumbai.  As regards to half marathons - actually, I have not kept account of the same.

Middle-aged people doing marathons
Though I have been a regular runner from my school days, these runs in Dubai with people of different nationalities have given a totally different dimension to running. Actually, a lot of awareness created in recent times, brought many middle-aged runners to marathon and ultras. This is one sport which can be pursued even after mid-30s when people actually stop all physical activities. Hence for running, age is not a restriction. If you take care of a few points, running can be safely undertaken.

Dubai Marathon preparations
Every year, the preparation for Dubai Marathon starts in August. You have to make sure you do not overdo and get an injury. Once you get injured, you stay away for 2 or 3 weeks to recover.

Let's talk injuries
Of course, I had running-related injuries, mostly calf muscle strain which had even stopped me from participating in a few Marathons in Dubai. But, I used to turn up with cameras to photograph the runners!

Yoga helps in running
Yoga helped me a lot and now running-related injuries are almost nil. Plus the excellent facilities for running in Dubai gives no excuse for not running. You have a rubberized track in most locations helping runners of all capacity.   We have an excellent running group.

Lucy Heaton

Lucy works as the National Account Manager for Starbucks. You will find this 30-year-old girl running, swimming, cycling and playing netball as part of a team in a social league through the week.

How many Marathons?
2 half Marathons and debuting with Dubai Marathon.

Big day on January 26
This will be my first ever Marathon, I started with smaller races and have built up to bigger ones, such as this. I still can't quite believe I am doing it. I have been training since September and prepared initially for the Dubai Half Marathon on December 8.  So all of the training was in preparation for the big day on January 26!

My training schedule
I trained by running 3-4 times per week, a speed session, a tempo session, and a long run - if my body allows it, I will do an extra run but most times I am cross training and will do a long cycle. Diet can be tricky - I eat well most of the time, but last month was tough because of the festive season.

Changes that I noticed in myself
I feel very energetic, I feel lighter and I feel so happy! Running gives you an overall glow. Though after a long run that can change quite fast and  I feel exhausted and ache all over. Running really is tough on the body, and 42 km is a long way.

Ready. Steady. Go: Time to run
3 tips for first-time marathoners:
. Believe in your training and remember that your half marathon is at 32k.

. Don't try new food, clothes, accessories, etc. on the race day or a night before.

. During the marathon, enjoy yourself and just focus on finishing it with a positive state of mind. Do not complain about the start time, weather, spouse or your partner.

Runners' Corner
1) GU gels - You will need extra energy for running and these gels are the most popular ones. It is advised to have them every 5 km. You will find these gels at spinneys or any sports shops.

2) Reebok Crossfit Nano 8 - The strong foundation of these shoes make sure you stay comfortable even when your foot spreads as you lift weights, jump, run and put your body to the test. We cannot stress enough how important it is to wear a shoe that is tough, comfortable and breathable.

3) Find your mental strength - When your body is ready to give up, find that inner greatness of yours which is bigger than any obstacle that you have ever come across. When your body tells you that you cannot finish your marathon, find your mental strength which will tell you WHY YOU CAN finish the marathon.

4) Enjoy your finish - Enjoy your finish line and don't forget to smile for the camera. Most of the people do not run the marathon, so be proud to be part of that exclusive club.

Start Times
Marathon -
6:00am Wheelchair & Elites. 7.00am Masses.
10km Road Race - 9:00 am.
4 km Fun Run - 11:00 am.

Start and finish information
The start & finish of the Dubai Marathon and 10km will be on the Umm Suqeim Road opposite the Madinat Jumeirah. Both these starts will be at the Madinat Jumeirah end of Umm Suqeim Road. The 4km will start off the Umm Suqeim Road on Al Sufouh opposite the Madinat Jumeirah. All the finishes will be at the Dubai Police Academy end of Umm Suqeim Road.


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