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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Abu Dhabi mum sets sights on 7Emirates run

The charity run crosses through the country's seven emirates and is run over seven consecutive days

Toni Metcalfe will be the first female to cross all seven Emirates in 7 days, running a total of 497km. Navin Khianey for The National
Toni Metcalfe will be the first female to cross all seven Emirates in 7 days, running a total of 497km. Navin Khianey for The National

After having her third child and struggling to jog around her compound, an Abu Dhabi resident now plans to race across vast expanses of the country’s desert for the 7Emirates charity run next week.

Toni Metcalfe began running three years ago after finding simple chores exhausting.

“After having my third child my weight ballooned to the point I found simple things like taking my kids to the pool tiring, so I knew that something had to change,” she said.

Ms Metcalfe began with baby steps. Her goal was to run around her compound (1.3km) without stopping, a feat that took three weeks to accomplish.

“I just kept lengthening my distance goal and watching what I was eating and my weight started to decrease and distance started to increase,” she said.

In 2015, she ran her first marathon and joined a running club. She ran 42.2km for the Dubai Marathon and crossed the finish line in 3 hours 48 minutes.

“Training then became a big part of my life and I loved it. I joined a running club, the Abu Dhabi Striders, and loved it even more.”

A month later she entered her first trail race in Ras Al Khaimah.

“It was tough, really tough. The mountain really took it out of me, the rocky terrain tore my shoes up and I was hot and exhausted but crossed the finish line dead last but I felt elated and incredibly happy. This is when I knew mountain and ultra-running was my calling,” she said.

Since then she has trained consistently and has taken part in many races across Europe and the Middle East, often placing among the top female runners.

“This has lead me to my next amazing adventure, the 7Emirates run,” she said.

The marathon - as the name suggests – crosses the country’s seven emirates and is completed over seven days, beginning in Abu Dhabi and ending in Hatta. Ms Metcalfe will be the first female ultra-runner to take part in this year seven-day version of the run.

The 7Emirates Run traces through the country's seven emirates. 7Emirates
The 7Emirates Run traces through the country's seven emirates. 7Emirates

“I am really looking forward to the adventure and meeting wonderful people along the way while giving back to the community and helping children back on their feet.

“It’s going to be an amazing way to see and experience the UAE, the place that has been my home for almost 11 years,” she said.

Some 177 runners are expected to take part in the race, beginning November 18 and ending on November 24.

It hoped that Dh497,000 will be raised to support children suffering from deformities or amputation in the UAE whose family cannot afford treatment.

A Full Distance Team of seven runners and Relay Teams of three to seven runners will run a total of 497 km across the country, averaging 71 km per day.

The team will be led by German Guinness World Record holder Wendelin Lauxen, who recorded the fastest time to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents - twice.

“My lucky number is 7, I am the fourth child of 7 in our family and was born on July 7, I did the 7 continents 4 times and the 7 Emirates 5 times, that’s why the number seven appears in almost all our numbers,” said Mr Lauxen, the founder and director of the 7Emirates Run and an ambassador of the Al Jalila Foundation, an event partner.

Participants can run in four different categories; they can run individually or with a relay team, 71km or 10km on a selected day or they can participate in the social run.

“We have international registered runners and Abdulmumini from Nigeria, a double amputee, who will participate to inspire other disabled people,” said Mr Lauxen

Last year the event targeted to raise more than AED 277,000 in donations and seven children have been helped so far.

In it's sixth edition, 7Emirates is in partnership with Al Jalila Foundation and held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Visit the 7Emirates website for more information on registration and donation.