Dubai Fitness Challenge: Expat meets her future husband during 21km race

The star-crossed fitness lovers met during the Spartan race and spent the next couple of months training, participating in races around the world


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 9:20 AM

Last updated: Fri 4 Nov 2022, 1:09 PM

In September 2017, when fitness enthusiast Tania Lolla Kaddoura landed in the UAE, she had no idea that she would find love in the city. The Serbian met her husband during the first edition of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC).

A physiotherapist and personal trainer by training, and a sport lover by heart, Lolla had travelled the world as a fitness director for a cruise ship and a children’s fitness specialist before she arrived in Dubai. She was absolutely delighted when the inaugural DFC was announced. The one thing that she was really keen on doing was the gruelling 21-km Spartan race. “I trained really hard for it but you know, sometimes God has other plans,” she said. “Three days before the race, I got injured. I was absolutely gutted. So, I contacted the organizers and requested to be a volunteer.”

Despite her injury, Lolla did a part of the race and then headed to the finish line to hand out medals to the finishers. One of the finishers was Mohammed Kaddoura. “As soon as he saw me, he said hi Lolla,” she recalled. “At the time the Spartan community was really small because it was the first year, so he had recognized me from some of the social media posts Spartan had put out.”

That was an instant connection which very quickly blossomed into love.

Racing around the world

The star-crossed fitness lovers spent the next couple of months training and participating in races around the world. “We did running, swimming, more Spartan and whatever races we could find,” she said.

They returned to the city for the Dubai Marathon. “It was my first ever marathon and we prepared well for it,” she recalled. However, at the end of the race, there was another surprise for her.

“After running the marathon, I was absolutely exhausted. It took me almost five hours to get my head straight. I have heard people say that running a marathon will change your life. So I asked Mohammed whether he thought my life would change and he replied that it would if I married him. That is how he proposed to me.”

After their marriage, the couple continued to train and run races. Even after Lolla found out that she was pregnant, the duo did the Spartan race.

Motherhood and beyond

Soon after her son Noah was born, the whole world went into lockdown. “I loved being a mother, but I started to miss my super active lifestyle,” she said. “So, when Noah was six-month-old and my doctor had given me the green light that I could resume my fitness journey, I started working out with him. We did a lot of home workouts because we could not go out.”

At the 2020 DFC, Lolla participated in the Dubai Run with her infant.

Since then, the couple have been cycling, hiking, running and participating in various physical activities with little Noah.

This year Lolla has once again been working out and doing her 30x30 with Noah. “When I started posting my videos with him, women would message me asking about how to manage,” she said. “That is when I realized how important it is to speak out about working out even when the kids are young.”

Since the start of the DFC, Lolla has biked, ran and done home workouts. Here is how Noah tries to help her when she exercises

For Lolla, the biggest takeaway from motherhood has been her strength. “To be honest, before Noah, I thought I was a strong woman,” she said. “But it was only after he was born that I realized what real strength is. Women are such champions to endure the sleeplessness and the stress of caring for a newborn. I am proud of myself and what I have achieved since he was born.”


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