Dubai Fitness Challenge: Meet the Indian expat who ran 30 marathons in 30 days

Shafi Thayyil said he feels ‘limitless’ after completing the challenge


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Supplied photo
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Published: Sat 27 Nov 2021, 7:29 PM

A Dubai-based Indian expatriate completed thirty 42-km marathons in 30 days. A UAE resident since 2002, avid runner Shafi Thayyil took up and completed the extreme challenge as part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge.

Owner of an IT company 800 Fixing, Thayyil began running in 2006. After completing several local runs, international marathons, Iron Man competitions and 100km runs, Thayyil decided to up the ante this year for the Fitness Challenge.

For 30 days, he chose to run at the Khawaneej Quranic Park, Mamzar Pak, and some days he ran in Sharjah. “I also ran the full marathon for Dubai Run on November 26,” Thayyil told Khaleej Times.

He finished his final run at Zabeel Park in Dubai on Saturday, November 27. “The run began at 3.30 pm and we had a little closing ceremony with my friends and family at Zabeel Park,” he added.

“All of the runs were done outside and not on a treadmill. I feel like the UAE government has provided us with so many amazing sports facilities and we must make the best use of it,” stated Thayyil.

He is also deeply inspired by the example set by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, especially for motivating millions to lead a fitter, more active lifestyle. “This is my way of saying thanks to the government as well,” said Thayyil.

Since that first Dubai Fun Run in 2006, where he ran three kilometres, Thayyil took the running gig seriously two years ago. “I took up running seriously two years ago. I’ve done the Iron Man 70.3 and I’ve scaled Jebel Jais barefoot. I’ve run the Berlin, Chennai and Dubai Marathons and I’ve done a 100 km ultra-marathon in South Africa,” he said.

The Jebel Jais expedition took place following the Covid-19 lockdown last year and Thayyil dedicated that run to all the frontline workers in UAE.

Also read:

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

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

The reasons Thayyil picked up running as a passion were not health-related. Thayyil said he gets flooded with ideas to better his business while running.

“It began with that fun run many years ago. I believe when I am running, I become the best version of myself. Running has helped me with my business and my family life. The positive energy that I get from running has spread to all other aspects of my life,” he said.

The Indian expat runs run three to four days a week. “The rest of the days, I go swimming and cycling. I keep aside one to a one-and-a-half-hour every day to get in some exercise,” he said.

While Thayyil ran his first marathon with a lot of difficulties, he said running has become very enjoyable right now. “While this may seem like an extreme thing to do for many people, I realise how much I can push my body now. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it,” he stated.

The closing weekend of the month-long Dubai Fitness Challenge was celebrated from November 26-27. On Friday, festivities ended with a bang as 146,000 people converged on Sheikh Zayed Road for Dubai Run.

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