Record bid: UAE athlete to run 265km in 24 hours at Dubai Mall

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 6, 2021
Lee Ryan. — Supplied photo

Five-time record holder Lee Ryan is attempting another Guinness World Record on Friday to raise awareness on mental health

A Dubai-based endurance athlete will attempt to break an existing world record by running 264.52km in 24 hours on a treadmill inside The Dubai Mall.

Lee Ryan, a 38-year-old endurance athlete from Liverpool, UK, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record on Friday, to raise awareness around mental health. The record is held by Norwegian Bjørn Tore Kronen Taranger since 2018.

Ryan will run from 10am on Friday to 10am on Saturday in front of the large glass window frontage of the new adidas flagship store at The Dubai Mall and mall-goers can witness the attempt from within and outside the store. The run will help raise funds and awareness for British group Mind Charity, which helps people with mental health issues.

Ryan is a father to two girls and has been in the UAE for over 15 years. Lee holds five world records for a series of impressive titles such as the Most Burpees in 24 hours, the first known person to run from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, as well as a 100km backyard marathon during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Speaking to Khaleej Times a few days ahead of the run, Ryan said: “I began running on a treadmill only seven months ago, and for someone who has always run outdoors, I have had a lot to learn. In the UAE, we are blessed with good facilities and great weather most days of the year.” However, things changed for Ryan when the Covid-19 lockdown hit last year.

“Last year, I did all my runnings indoors. I ran outdoors only five times,” said Ryan. He had to change his training scope, and he has been able to save a lot of time while training for this record attempt. “Time-saving has been a blessing,” he said. Ryan had first planned the attempt in October 2020, but that got moved to January this year.

Around that time, Ryan’s mother-in-law passed away. “My wife had to go back to the UK, and I stayed back with my girls to take care of them. I was single parenting for eight weeks while simultaneously seeing to it that my wife is safe.”

He said he would train in some capacity at home, but he had almost lost sight of the goal back then.

“I finally got back on track, and I’ve been running three to four hours every day, and I’ve covered 7,500km during the training,” said Ryan. His wife Suzanne Ryan is a PE teacher at a Dubai secondary school. “My girls are super active as well. In our family, we say ‘Team Ryan’ never gives up,” he concluded.

Passionate about mental health

Ryan said he chose to run to raise awareness about mental health since it is a primarily misunderstood medical discipline. “From a male perspective, we are constantly being told we cannot show our weaknesses. Also, we’ve suffered a lot over the years, including the loss of my mother-in-law, I’ve seen my wife deal with the grief, and we lost our stillborn son,” said Ryan. He hopes that with the example he sets, more people will realise that it is OK to ask for help.

Ryan is one of the most motivational endurance coaches in the UAE and Captain of adidas Runners Dubai (5,000+ members) and adidas Runners Abu Dhabi (9,000 members).


Ryan’s run plan for Friday

Running 264.52km in 24 hours is a substantial challenge. Ryan hopes to break the current record by anything between five to 100 metres or by a couple of minutes. “I am looking at running 10 to 11 km per hour. That will give me a five-minute breather every hour for toilet breaks, clothing change, or food. I’ll be doing a lot of eating and drinking while running,” said Ryan.

Though long-distance running is not new to Ryan, this is the first time he has so many parameters and rules to follow. “This is the farthest I’ve ever run without going anywhere. The conditions and temperatures will be in a more controlled environment, and the set-up allows me to listen to podcasts and watch Netflix while running to help me keep my mind off things,” explained Ryan.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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