Over 150 Dubai runners gathered at Nad El Sheba Cycle Park on Sunday to take part in the Cisco Tiani Dubai Run, in support of the Wings for Life foundation.
The charity aims to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and the Wings for Life World Run was organised to raise funds in aid of this.
With no official Dubai leg organised, Cisco employee Chris Khouri decided to take the initiative and organised the Cisco Tiani Dubai Run himself.
Despite his spinal cord being severely damaged in 2009, Khouri continues to be an inspiration by demonstrating nothing is impossible.
All of the entry fees collected in Dubai and around the world have been allocated to support the Wings for Life foundation.
Runs took place on 34 courses, in 32 countries and 13 time zones, with runners from 164 nations raising money in the first-ever Wings for Life World Run.
The goal for those taking part was to run as far as possible before the “Catcher Cars”, that started 30 minutes behind, caught them.
A total of 29,847 runners were still in the race after an hour – an impressive achievement by any standard.
The number was reduced even more dramatically in the third hour as only 327 runners were still in the race, and by the four-hour mark there were just 26 left.
A 78-kilometre long race came down to a thrilling sprint finish between two runners, battling it out on two courses which were 11,000 kilometres apart.
In the end, Lemawork Ketema of Ethiopia out-sprinted Remigio Huaman Quispe of Peru to win a dramatic intercontinental duel by just 90 metres.
Speaking after the race, Colin Jackson, international race director, admitted it had been an amazing finale to a brilliant event.
"It was an incredibly close finish. It was an outstanding day and an outstanding occasion,” he said.
The entire amount of the entry fees from the 50,398 registered runners and additional donations made on top all went exclusively to the Wings for Life charity, which raised a total of 3 million euros.
Wings for Life CEO Anita Gerhardter has announced that the world run will become an annual fixture with the date for the next race set for May 3, 2015.
Global Results Men
1. Lemawork Ketema (ETH)/ run in Austria 78.57 kilometers
2. Remigio Huaman Quispe (PER)/ Peru 78.48
3. Evgeny Glyva (UKR)/ Austria 78.40
4. Giorgio Calcaterra (ITA)/ Italy 72.96
5. Paul Michelletti (NZL)/ UK 69.37
Global Results Female
1. Elise Molvik (NOR)/ Norway 54.79 kilometers
2. Nathalie Vasseur (FRA)/ France 51.26
3. Svetlana Shepalova (MDA)/ Turkey 48.29
4. Mfanzi Ntombesintu (RSA)/ South Africa 47.57
5. Lea Bäumler (GER)/ Germany 46.23
Registration is now open if you want to compete in UAE’s first trail running event on Saturday May 17, which is hosted by The North Face in partnership with Dubai Trail Running Group (DTRG).
The North Face Trail Running Event will be an opportunity to challenge yourself in the 12.5km course at Showka Dam near the Hajar mountains outside Dubai, under the guidance of seasoned trail runner, and founder of DTRG, Lee Harris.
“I started the (DTRG) group a couple of years ago and have been in this health and fitness industry all my life,” says Harris.
“I would say it’s a passion of mine. I competed in boxing when I was younger and I was always involved in sports. I got into ultra trail running a few years ago because I wanted a new challenge and I like the ultra trails mountain running.”
The event, to begin at 06:00, is open to those aged 18 and over, regardless of their fitness experience, says Harris.
“It’s for anyone who wants to get into shape.
“Basically, it’s for anyone who wants to change their life and want a challenge. The track is outside of the city in Dubai and you can forget about your work for the day. There will be no cars anywhere near the track, so you can run with a free mind. And you are going to get a really good workout that will surely test your body.”
Describing the course, Harris says the terrain will be a mix of both sand and landscape, which should test even the most hardened runners.
“You will be out in the mountains and running on a single track as well as climbing over rocks. You won’t really be seeing any tarmac. The rocks will test your concentration as well as keep you on your toes,” says Harris.
The North Face, an American company, has sponsorship deals with professional athletes in running, climbing, skiing and snowboarding and are now keen to promote trail running in UAE.
Mohammad Baker, Deputy Chairman of Sun & Sand Sports, explained: “We are pleased to be at the forefront of activating this exciting, dynamic new sport in the UAE under the guidance of Dubai Trail Running Group.
"We have partnered with them for the first edition of The North Face Trail Running event to encourage outdoor participation, and to get more active people, who enjoy a challenge, involved in the latest outdoor adventure sport to hit the region.”
Harris, delighted to be associated with the well-known outdoor apparel brand, added: “North Face came to me with this idea.
“They are a huge company and have got some huge runners in their entourage around the world. They got a lot of major trail events all around the world. Dubai has some of the best trailing tracks in the world and have a combination of desert and mountains, and they want to bring the trail running event to the UAE.”
Entry is free but places are limited, so participants are enrouraged to register quickly. All you need is a pair of running shoes, a hydration pack and a cap, while first aid officers will be available throughout the course and transport will be provided.
What: The North Face Trail Running Event 2014
When: Saturday May 17 at 06:00
Where: Showka Dam, Dubai
Contact: Register by email at sun&[email protected] or call 04 362 5129 for more information.
The 10km Wings for Life World Run takes place on Sunday at Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park in Dubai, and there’s still time to sign up for this unique event before registration closes on Saturday.
The Wings for Life World Run is an entirely new type of event. Encompassing 35 locations across the world, in which everyone runs at the very same time, it is a truly global adventure.
While it is only a 10km race, by running this year, you will be actively contributing in making a full run in Dubai a reality in the future, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the Wings For Life Foundation, which funds research into spinal cord injuries.
The run is organised by Chris Khouri, who was left paralysed from the chest down following a motorcycle accident in 2009, and he explained why he wanted to arrange a run in the UAE.
“When I heard about this run, my first question to myself was why was this run not being held in the UAE,” said Khouri. “Very spontaneously, I contacted the sporting community groups (in UAE) and see whether people would be willing to organise our own version of the run and see if there would be any interest in organising a 10km run.
“Within 24 hours of promoting the run on Twitter and Facebook, I had over 100 responses saying ‘yes we will absolutely take part in it’.
“I work for Cisco, and it happens to be one of the main sponsors for the Wings for Life World Run, and through them I came in touch with the Wings for Life Foundation – which has been founded by Red Bull. I told them that I’m planning a race with all benefits for the organisation and they gave me a lot of support. Thanks to them, Red Bull Middle East has been instrumental in supporting this event.”
The run begins at 6:00pm with the format being described as a unique running experience.
“A car chases the runners and every 15 minutes it increases its speed. Every time the car overtakes the runner, they will have to stop running. Whoever outruns the car the furthest wins the race,” said Khouri.
“The reason is that it’s at that time (18:00) we are running when the rest of the world is also running. We will be part of the global movement that will have more than 150,000 runners.”
With the run open to people aged 10 and over, Khouri explains why it’s worth taking part on Sunday.
“It’s a fun run. It’s not a competitive run. It’s a run for the family, It’s a run that will challenge themselves,” he said. “Yes it will be hard and yes you will be suffering. You will be in pain but it’s always worth remembering that you’re not the only one who is suffering. And do you want to give up, given that there are guys who can’t even run?
“It’s about the raising the awareness of disability among our society and the importance of an active lifestyle. There is no excuse for not having an active lifestyle and no excuse for giving up.”
Besides the run, there will be raffle prizes, a DJ station and food and beverage stalls at the venue. Entry fees vary from Dh50 to Dh500.
What: 10km Wings for Life World Run
Where: Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park, Dubai
When: Sunday, May 4 at 18:00
Contact: Register at www.premieronline.com (closes on Saturday, May 3)