Dubai Run 2021: 146,000 people join Sheikh Hamdan in world's largest run on Sheikh Zayed Road

Crown Prince hails city's ‘unassailable spirit’.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Fri 26 Nov 2021, 5:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jul 2023, 3:49 PM

Sheikh Zayed turned into a sea of humanity at dawn on Friday as 146,000 residents - young and old; man, woman and child; Emiratis and expats - braved the morning chill and hit the road with bright-eyed joy for the Dubai Run - now the world’s largest run.

And to give them company was the great man himself - Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai - rubbing shoulders with ordinary mortals on the closing weekend of this year’s Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC).

As cars lay sulking on being deprived of their superhighway run for the day, Dubai’s lifeline transformed into one massive running track as people from all walks of life and different abilities - including people of determination - ran and walked for fitness.

While families, amateurs and those out for a day of fun generally did the 5km run/walk, some of the world’s top athletes ran alongside recreational runners and aspiring running champions in the 10km. They included a team of elite Kenyan runners who have been taking part in several DFC events and activities.

Taking to Instagram Stories early on Friday, Sheikh Hamdan posted a video of himself at the run with a simple motivational message: “Let’s do it.”

“Running alongside 146,000 people who completed the Dubai Run today, I was moved by the strength of our community and seeing what we can achieve when we work together. By turning out in such numbers, we have shown the world that this is one of the greatest cities to live in, work in and visit; a city with an unassailable spirit and ability to achieve,” said the man behind the initiative to get Dubai up and running.

The run began near the Museum of the Future and ended at Dubai World Trade Centre with the route taking runners past some of the most iconic structures and landmarks of the city, including Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, among others.

While many worked up some serious sweat, for many families and children, it was one big picnic as they took in some spectacular views of the city against the background of the early morbing sun.

It was also quite heartening to see many elderly people join in the run. Syrian expat Ahmed, who resides on Shaikh Zayed Road itself, joined the run with his entire family. The man, who is close to 60 it a big fitness buff. “The atmosphere is just electric. It’s great to see people come together on the busiest road of the city for this run,” he told Khaleej Times. “Just look at the crowd, I am unable to locate my family here,” he chuckled.

Ahmed vowed that though Dubai Fitness Challenge is coming to an end, he will continue with his workout routine for 30 minutes every day.

Mohammed an Egyptian expat from Al Barsha was excited to join the run along with his wife and children. He also got along his 8-month-old daughter on a stroller to soak in the high-octane atmosphere.  “Look at her, she is so happy,” he said, as he and his wife ran while pushing the stroller on SZR.


“I have been maintaining my 30 minute workout each day and the reason I am here is solely for my kids. They are so excited to participate,” he said. His family managed to complete the 5km run.

Determined lot

A few people of determination also took part. One of them was Mohammed Javeed from Kerala. The expat has been participating in different races and challenges in Dubai and also has some walking records up his sleeve. He even walked from Sharjah to Dubai during the no-car day.  “The weather made it perfect for the run. I may be physically-challenged, but that did not stop me from pursuing my fitness goals.”

Javeed lost his arm in an accident in Mumbai, India, and has iron rods fitted in both his legs. “I urge the youth and every single person to start with a fitness goal and religiously follow it. I lost many things, including my job,  but I believe my health is the greatest wealth.”

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