Thousands of people took part in the 10th annual Zayed Marathon yesterday – one of many activities celebrating the forthcoming 41st UAE National Day.
Taking place on Yas Island for the second consecutive year, the event consisted of eight races and rewarded the fastest runners with cash prizes.
Five of the races were for schoolchildren and there was one apiece for women, men and people with special needs.
The races were about more than just winning, said Dr Musabah Al Kaabi, the coordinator.
“We said from the beginning, it’s not only a sport event,” he added. “It’s not only a prize, not only winning. It is a celebration for the country and it’s more a social thing, a gathering.”
Other activities included traditional dance performances, displays of traditional food and face-painting for children.
More than 15,000 youngsters and 4,000 adults and people with special needs took part in the races, which ranged in distance from 3 kilometres to 10km.
Participation by women was also strong this year, after organisers pushed for more to take part.
The youngest runners were 5 and the oldest was a 70-year-old local man who ran in the 10km race.
“This is what we were looking for,” said Dr Al Kaabi. “There was more than one goal. What I saw today, it was a good picture.
“This is part of our goal, sharing with the community. We should keep organising this event because it’s sport and a celebration of the nation. We need to participate in these kinds of things.”