Look: Sheikh Zayed Road turns into ocean of orange for Dubai Run

Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan leads the group of runners in what is believed to be the world’s largest free fun run

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Shihab
Photos: Shihab

Published: Sun 26 Nov 2023, 7:33 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 Nov 2023, 10:48 PM

On Sunday morning, Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road transformed into a vibrant sea of orange as residents and visitors enthusiastically participated in the iconic Dubai Run. A remarkable 226,000 runners of various ages and abilities took to the arterial road to participate in one of the most awaited features of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) on November 26.

Dubai's Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his team led the group of runners in what is believed to be the world's largest free fun run. He smiled and waved at the initial group of participants, with several individuals jostled to capture his photo. "A big thank you to all 226,000 participants who joined Dubai Run!" Sheikh Hamdan later wrote on X.

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab
Photo: X/Sheikh Hamdan
Photo: X/Sheikh Hamdan

According to volunteers, people began arriving at the venue as early as 3:30 am for the event, which officially commenced at 6:30 am.

Nick Watson, founder of Team AngelWolf, was one of the marshals for the race and was outside the Emirates Towers metro station directing people where to go before heading to the start line with his team of runners.

“We have participated in every Dubai Run held so far,” he said. “This year we have over 200 marshals, divided into groups. Some are on the ground controlling the crowd while two groups of us are running with the people."

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

Founded by Nick and his wife Delphine in 2014 to support their son Rio, Team AngelWolf have been at the forefront of every Dubai Run since it began. The group, who participate with Rio in his specialised running chair, are regularly seen at sports events across the UAE.

Christie, Alise and Nathan
Christie, Alise and Nathan

First time runners

For Scottish expats and colleagues Christie, Alise and Nathan, it was a novel experience watching Sheikh Zayed Road turn into a giant running track. Christie and Elise moved to the UAE recently and this was the first time they were participating in the run.

“I could not have imagined this road like this,” said Christie. “I live around the area and I have seen it being the highway it is. So when friends told me people would be running all across it, I just had to check it out myself.”

Nathan, who has participated in the event, said he enjoyed the run. “I don’t run a lot, but who wouldn’t want the chance to have a fun run across Sheikh Zayed Road? I love the community spirit.”

Divided into two routes- a 5km flat route and a more challenging 10km route- the Dubai Run offers something for everyone. While the 5km route ended on the Mohammed bin Rashid boulevard near Dubai Mall, the 10km route crossed the Dubai Canal bridge, looped along Sheik Zayed Road and finished near DIFC Gate.

Andrei with Briana
Andrei with Briana

Children as young as one were among the runners. Filipino expat Andrei patiently ran behind his one-year-old daughter Briana who meandered from the walking path to examine anything that excited her.

“We live in Sharjah, and we left home around 5am to get here in time for the run,” said Andrei. “My family is walking ahead, but I am accompanying Briana as she explores things and enjoys her surroundings. Even though we are running the 5k, I am pretty sure I would have done 10k by the time I follow her around,” he laughed.

Having fun

The non-competitive fun run fosters a sense of community as families, friends and colleagues turn out in large numbers for a morning of exercise.

German expat and a resident of the Lakes, Meike had come to participate in the run with her three daughters — 9-year-old, 12-year-old Merle and 16-year-old Mascha as well as Zoe, a friend of Mascha's.

“We are just having fun,” she said. “The girls run a lot but I don’t usually. This is one event where we can all come together and just enjoy getting fitter together.”

Meike with her daughters
Meike with her daughters

Returning to participate in the run for the second year, Meike said she took the metro to get to the starting point near Museum of the Future. “Since we came last year, we knew where to go and how to get there,” she said. “The race is very well organised and we really enjoyed our morning out together.”

A few moments after 10am, Sheikh Zayed Road was open to traffic. Prior to that, several police cars did last minute sweeps of the road to ensure safety.

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