x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dubai Half Marathon is praised for scenic route and good organisation

The 12th annual Dubai Half Marathon saw 2,000 runners turn out on Friday morning.

About 2,000 runners took part in the Dubai Half Marathon on Friday morning, taking in sights around Dubai Creek, Satish Kumar / The National
About 2,000 runners took part in the Dubai Half Marathon on Friday morning, taking in sights around Dubai Creek, Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Thousands of runners took to the streets around Dubai Creek on Friday morning for the 12th annual Dubai Half Marathon.

This year the course record was broken by almost a minute as Ismail SSenyange, from Uganda, won in a time of one hour and eight minutes.

“I feel great because that was my target before the race and I managed to achieve it,” SSenyange said. “Ideally, I would have liked to have been 20 to 30 seconds faster but I can’t complain.

“I didn’t do any special training for this as I had already run the Chennai marathon a few days earlier so I still had the endurance for that.”

The 21-kilometre run started and finished at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and took 2,000 competitors on a scenic route along the Creek.

The event has grown to become one of the most popular events on the running calendar for people from across the GCC.

John Young, event organiser and a member of the Dubai Creek Striders running club, said the half-marathon was as much a community event as a competition.

“We had 2,000 runners taking part this year and they encompass the full range of people, from elite runners to those doing it for the first time,” Mr Young said.

“People don’t realise how beautiful Dubai is until they do this race. The route takes you right around the Creek, passing where they load the dhows and abras, and through Al Shindagha tunnel.”

The popularity of the race is such that it was fully booked weeks in advance, he said.

“We keep it to about 2,000 runners because of the logistics involved and we want it to be as enjoyable as possible for everyone taking part,” Mr Young said.

“We could have more people in future because the interest is there, but it has to be done in the right way.”

Runners set off at 6.30am. Anne-Mari Hyrylainen, a professional runner from Finland, won the women’s category in one hour and 18 minutes.

“I’m based with the Dubai Creek Striders so this is my home race and I wanted to do well,” Hyrylainen said. “My only plan was to go out as hard as possible and that worked.

“I’m also planning on running the Dubai Marathon in a couple of months and this is a good way of building up to that.”

Many runners from outside the emirate also took part. Chad Lasater, an American with the Abu Dhabi Striders running club, was the first to cross the finish line from his team in a time of one hour, 20 minutes.

“This is the fourth year I’ve taken part and it’s always a wonderful event to be a part of,” Lasater said.

“My plan was to take it easy at the start and then do regular negative splits, but it didn’t turn out like that.”

Joost Van de Venne, a Dutch runner based in Doha, took part with a group of friends from Qatar.

“It’s the first time I have taken part and it is really well organised here,” Van de Venne said.

“I was going well until I hit the wall at around 15km but I managed to keep going because the finish line was so close.

“I’m really happy that I took part and I’m hoping to return to Dubai for the full marathon in January.” The organisation of the event drew praise from officials of the UAE Athletics Federation.

“This is such a wonderfully organised event that we are always delighted to be involved,” said Liesa Euton, race director for the federation.

“Not only do these types of events encourage people to take up sport and become physically active, it is also an opportunity for us to pick out the potential stars of the future.”

For more details about the Dubai Creek Striders, visit www.dubaicreekstriders.org.

nhanif@thenational.ae