DUBAI // After running 540 kilometres, most people would be ready to sit, or fall, down.
But a patriotic group of ultra marathoners decided to show their enthusiasm for the UAE by joining a National Day parade.
The seven runners had just completed the Seven Emirates challenge when they met up with a celebratory march on Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai.
The group had been raising money for 18-month-old Mohammed Ayoub, who lives in Sharjah, who has a deformity in his legs.
He needs auto-prosthesis to walk, but treatment costs more than Dh100,000.
The team was led by Wendelin Lauxen, 52, from Germany, who is also the managing director for Limb Tech, a company that is helping Mohammed.
Lauxen is no stranger to running long distances – he holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents.
He ran across the seven emirates by himself in 2010.
“I knew it was going to be painful. That’s why, in some parts of the race, I wondered why I was doing it again,” Lauxen said. “But then it was for a good cause, to help this boy, so I knew it was worthwhile.”
The team has raised about Dh58,000 so far. The rest of the treatment costs will be paid for by Dubai’s Al Jalila Foundation, a charity that funds medical research and treatment for the needy.
Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, chief executive of the foundation, said they wanted to make sure Mohammed could walk.
“We will make sure this boy is treated,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the treatment is paid for by us or by someone else. What matters is that he is treated.
“We are all very thankful to Allah that we can walk, so we want to help this boy back on to his feet, and, inshallah, maybe he will run too.”
The Seven Emirates run started on November 21 at the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan hotel in Abu Dhabi. The team ran along the east coast of the country, through Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, then down to the west coast before making their way to Dubai.
Starting at 7am daily, the team sometimes ran for up to eight hours a day, clocking in an average distance of about 48km. Some days they hit 56km, others 45km.
They would stop every day at pre-arranged checkpoints – either at a hotel on the way or, if they were in the desert, somewhere they could pitch a caravan that was brought along by a support team.
Lauxen said running such a long race did not require any special nutrition, aside from lots of water.
“Sometimes your body tells you that you need a banana, or a steak, so you have to listen to that,” he said. “Two days ago, I was so hungry for a burger, so I ate one.”
During the race, Lauxen burnt up to 4,000 calories a day and, even with the odd burger, lost 7 kilograms in weight.
The six other runners, including Deirdre O’Leary, 38, from Canada, were part of Dubai Creek Striders, an amateur running group that meets every Friday.
Ms O’Leary said the team had been running up to 100km a week, as well as practising proper nutrition.
Even so, she was in pain almost from day one.
“It became very painful,” she said. “But sometimes you’d be in so much pain, and then all of a sudden your body would just fix itself and you were fine again. That’s never happened to me in a normal marathon.”
Lauxen said he was hoping to organise something similar next year, but with a slightly larger group of runners – 77, to be exact.
After finishing the race on Sunday, Ms O’Leary was not sure whether she would participate again.
“Ask me tomorrow,” she said.