Dubai Fitness Challenge: Pakistani expat undertakes 30 half marathons for charity

Junaid Ahmed will be raising money for breast cancer awareness and prevention

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Saman Haziq

Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 4:51 PM

Pakistani national Junaid Ahmed moved to the UAE in October 2018, after almost a decade in Shanghai, China. He knew no one in the city and that began to take a toll on him as he felt quite lonely and depressed. He then heard about the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) and decided to take up running as his fitness activity. Fast forward to 2021 and Junaid is transformed into a marathon runner who is now connected to several communities and people whom he trains with.

And this year, Junaid is challenging himself with 30 half marathons in 30 consecutive days as part of the DFC and will he be dedicating to a good cause. He will be raising money for breast cancer awareness and prevention, through these marathons, for which he said he has secured the necessary permissions too from the authorities through Yallagive.

“Dubai has so much to offer when it comes to sports that it's unbelievable. I was quite alone and depressed when I moved here initially. A toxic job worsened my mental health. I picked up running to avoid exacerbating my mental health further, and then cycling and swimming too eventually. I went from running zero kilometres to preparing for ultra marathon distances in about six months,” he said.

Elaborating on the same, Junaid said: “Dubai Fitness Challenge is so special because the whole city comes together in the spirit of sport. There are so many activities to choose from! Running is extremely close to my heart and I will be running 30 half marathons (21.1 km distance) in 30 consecutive days. I am doing this challenge to raise money for cancer awareness and prevention in the UAE through Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP).”

Talking about why he picked cancer as his charity cause, Junaid said he had a personal story to it. “I am aiming to raise Dh10,000. When I was young, I was close to my aunt, Sumera (Khala), and a few years ago, she passed away from cancer after a long, drawn-out battle. I am doing this in her memory, and to honour everyone in the world who is fighting this tough battle, or who have successfully defeated it.”

Junaid, who works as a graduate recruitment at American University in Dubai, runs every day for two hours from 5am to 7am in different areas across the city such as Dubai Sports City running track or Kite beach track, among others.

Talking about some life-long bonds he has made through his fitness activities, he said: “The running communities in Dubai are incredibly supportive. People from all walks of life, and all parts of the world come together. There are fast runners, slow runners/hobby joggers, triathletes, long distance runners, and short distance runners, and sprinters. I run with runners from communities such as NFC, Innerfight, and Creek Striders and that gives one a sense of belonging, and in my case, lifelong friendships.”

Thanking the country’s leadership for a positive initiative like DFC, Junaid said: “Dubai's weather is so incredible for at least 6 months every year - and DFC happens at the perfect time. The country's leadership is incredibly committed towards sports. The leadership participates in sports too! The facilities here in Dubai are world class for anything and everything. I can't imagine a Dubai without sporting activity or myself without sports.”

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