Covid-19: Dubai expat scales Jebel Jais barefoot to show support for frontline workers

Shafi Thayyil (right) is the owner of an IT firm.
Shafi Thayyil (right) is the owner of an IT firm.

Dubai - Thayyil's kids, Aysha and Alan, ran with him as well.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sat 22 Aug 2020, 3:34 PM

Last updated: Sun 23 Aug 2020, 8:19 AM

While the ongoing pandemic has put a chink in fitness regimes of most people, a 37-year-old Dubai-based Indian businessman refused to allow Covid-19 to deter his love for running. 
Despite the sweltering heat, Shafi Thayyil, owner of an IT firm, scaled 1,934 metres on the Jebel Jais mountain in Ras Al Khaimah over the weekend. What's more? He ran non-stop for a total of 21km, barefoot. Thayyil told Khaleej Times that he is dedicating his run to the frontline workers who have been battling Covid-19 in the UAE.  

In the last 100 metres of the run, Thayyil's kids, Aysha and Alan, aged 10 and seven, respectively, ran with him as well. "The total runtime was two hours and 50 minutes. I had a support vehicle trailing behind me throughout the run," said Thayyil.  

The running bug bit Thayyil in 2012. "When I was working for my old company, they had organised a team to run the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon for a 3km fun run. I felt an incredible amount of positivity and energy during that run. I decided to take up the activity."  

After that, Thayyil has run the full Dubai Marathon, the Chennai Marathon in India and the Abu Dhabi Marathon. He was supposed to do the Berlin Marathon this year. However, the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.  

As time progressed, he began running barefoot. "Unlike running with shoes, the mind is also very alert and aware when I am running barefoot. You need to keep a lookout for things on the street," he said.  

Thayyil said he doesn't find cushioning a problem as he lands on his toes first while running barefoot. He began running up to Jebel Jais at 4.30am and completed it at 7.20am before the roads got heated. "My coach Dr Mohandas was also with me during the run; he is a professional triathlon running coach," he said.  

"I dedicated the run to the frontline workers because I want to thank them for the sacrifices they have made for us. This is the only way I can show my gratitude," he added. As part of his initiative, Thayyil wants to do to a barefoot run from Dubai to Abu Dhabi as well. "When things get better, I will eventually travel to Kazakhstan for a full iron man. That is my aim for next year," he added.

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