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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Portrait of a Nation: Air traffic controller has soaring ambitions for Spartan Race

Norwegian runner Hallvard Borsheim has ambitions to win this year’s XDubai Spartan Race in Hatta and is buoyed by Dubai Government’s ambition to get everyone fit and healthy

Norwegien XDubai athlete Hallvard Borsheim trains at Skydive Dubai's athlete's park. He hopes to be a winner in the inaugural Spartan Race in Hatta next month. Reem Mohammed / The National
Norwegien XDubai athlete Hallvard Borsheim trains at Skydive Dubai's athlete's park. He hopes to be a winner in the inaugural Spartan Race in Hatta next month. Reem Mohammed / The National

By day, Hallvard Borsheim is an Abu Dhabi air traffic controller. By night and at weekends, the Norwegian runner is putting in the hours training as an XDubai athlete hoping to win the 2017 Spartan Race and a Dh183,000 paycheque.

Strict training regimes are dominating Mr Borsheim’s spare time as he bids to win the first Middle East Championship and XDubai Spartan Race to be held in Hatta, on November 10.

Mr Borsheim moved to the UAE a little over 6 years ago, and undertook his first Spartan race in 2011, winning the first Dubai event in 2015.

“One of my friends encouraged me to take part in an obstacle event, Ice Warrior Challenge, at the end of 2011 and, after that, I was hooked,” he said.

“I’m a former cross-country ski sprinter and have always loved endurance sports.

“After my first obstacle race in 2011, I figured this sport could be my cup of tea.

“Spartan Racing challenges every aspect of your body; endurance, strength, coordination, balance and mental toughness.

“There’s always something you can improve at, and crossing the finish line gives you the best feeling of achievement.

“The community is one of the best parts - it’s a big family where everyone supports each other, no matter [their] level.”

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Read more:

Hatta gears up for the rough and the tough at XDubai Spartan Race

Tough Mudder comes to Dubai in December

Thousands unleash their inner warrior to tackle UAE’s second Spartan Race

Sheikh Hamdan calls on Emirates to take Dubai Fitness Challenge

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The XDubai Spartan Race is open to anyone over 4 and will feature the 5km Spartan Open Sprint, 20km Spartan Open Beast and Spartan Kids race for ages 4 to 14.

While the race offers competitive elite heats, races are for people of all levels and abilities. Participants can enter individually or as a team, which will see people working together to overcome the various challenges and help each other excel.

The event is the perfect opportunity to engage in activity as part of the 30-day Dubai Fitness Challenge.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, has been encouraging communities, businesses and government departments to sign up to the event in the hope of getting more people into exercise.

The fitness movement will begin with a free carnival of activities at Safa Park on this Fridan and SaturdayOctober 20-21, with celebrity guests such as footballer Rio Ferdinand attending on Friday in a bid to improve the nation’s health.

Mr Borsheim said the event is a good way for inactive people to be inspired to take up exercise and improve their health.

“This is another great initiative showing how the UAE is investing time and money in a very important aspect,” he said.

Hallvard Borsheim backs Dubai Government's 30-day fitness challenge and wants people to sign up. Reem Mohammed / The National
Hallvard Borsheim backs Dubai Government's 30-day fitness challenge and wants people to sign up. Reem Mohammed / The National

“Just 30 minutes a day is all it can take to become fitter, stronger and have a happier body and mind.

“It is a doable task for everyone, and that’s how training should be. There are so many ways to fitness, and don’t feel you have to follow all the trends out there.

“Just find a sport or activity you like. It could basically be anything that moves you - swim, run, dance, skip, skate and enjoy it. This will make it easy to then keep as a routine to put into your daily life.”

Preparation for this year’s Spartan Race is both gruelling and varied.

Mr Borsheim trains 6 to 7 days a week, with sessions broken down between 1 and 2 hours. They are a mix of trail running, intervals on the treadmill, track running and circuit training combined with specific technical skills for races, like grips, monkey bars, rope climbs and bucket carries.

But not everyone looking to get fit needs to take on such an intense regime, he said.

“I think the UAE continuously encouraging residents to keep fit and healthy is very important,” he said.

“The government has built great facilities, with running tracks, fields both outdoor and indoor and it supports these type of events and competitions.

“Before moving here I was afraid there wasn’t a lot to do and I would become lazy but I was definitely wrong there. I’m now more active than ever.

“If we look back in only a few years’ time, I’m sure the fitness community will have grown hugely.”

The biog

Name: Hallvard Borsheim

Age: 37

Nationality: Norwegian

Biggest achievement: Winning 2015 Dubai Spartan Race

First started racing: 2011

Biggest challenge: 27km Spartan World Championship

Career: Air traffic controller at Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation