x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

'Warriors' take chill challenge for charity

The UAE holds its first-ever Ice Warrior Challenge, an endurance race held on the slopes of Ski Dubai.

Competitors run the obstacle course at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.
Competitors run the obstacle course at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.

DUBAI // Mahmoud Khalifa, 10, and his father, Saleh, woke up at the crack of dawn yesterday, put on some warm clothes and prepared for an unusual challenge. Mahmoud, a Palestinian-Jordanian born in Dubai, was the youngest participant in Dubai's first-ever Ice Warrior Challenge, an endurance race held on the slopes of Ski Dubai. He and his father were among the more than 80 competitors in the event which started at 6am. Participants raced up the slopes, hauled bags of ice on their backs and clambered their way through a web of ropes, among a series of challenges.

Mr Khalifa, 44, said his son had insisted that both of them should tackle the course together. "I wanted to take part because my dad was," Mahmoud said. "Also I wanted to challenge myself and check my power." Bundled-up spectators cheered on the dozens of participants as they made their way through the course that zigzagged across the ski slope. The idea for the Ice Warrior Challenge was developed by Shaun Hutchinson and James Pritchard, who work for Majid al Futtaim Leisure, which organised the event. Arnaud Palu, the company's chief operating officer, said there were plans to make it an annual event.

"The challenge was both fun and demanding, while at the same time raising money," Mr Palu said. More than Dh60,000 (US$16,000) was raised by the participants, which will go to the Dubai Centre for Special Needs. Competitor Hennie Orillosa, 27, from the Philippines, found herself in a vastly different environment to the one she is used to as a lifeguard at Wild Wadi, a water park in Dubai. "We're used to being outside in the heat, so it was freezing," she said. "It was a very unique and challenging competition."

In the end, it was Craig Kirkcaldy, a 30-year-old from the UK, who earned the title of the UAE's first Ice Warrior, completing the almost 3km course in exactly 20 minutes. "It was pretty tough, I can't believe I won," he said. zconstantine@thenational.ae