ABU DHABI // Saeed al Mutawaa's decision to enter next month's half marathon in the capital is presenting him with one of the biggest challenges of his life.
The 32-year-old Emirati from Dubai has a high-pressure job as the CEO of Atlas Telecom, but overcoming what he calls the "boredom" factor of long-distance running has been a hurdle.
Last year he decided it was time to start getting fit, running twice a week, and in December he considered running in a road race. A colleague had been training for the Dubai marathon at the time and this gave him the idea of setting himself a goal. "The only target I've set myself so far is that I don't want to walk any of it. I want to stick it out and stay on a jog or a run. I'd like to do it in two and a half hours, but anything under three I'll be happy with."
The event has attracted more than 750 participants from around the Emirates who are entering either the 10km or half marathon (21.1km) distances, double the amount of last year. The event is organised by the Abu Dhabi Striders, the longest-established running club in the country, which has hosted a half marathon every year since 1992. "It's always been seen as the launch of the running season for Abu Dhabi," said Steve Watson, one of the organisers.
"This is the biggest we've ever done as it's been taken to a broader community. We've created an opportunity for people of all levels of fitness to take part. This isn't about elite running. Finishing is your reward," Mr Watson said.
The club is extending today's closing date for entries to the event, which starts at the Hilton hotel on the Corniche, by two days due to the event's popularity. Registration details are available at www.abudhabistriders.com and www.premiermarathons.com