As thousands prepare to take part in Friday’s 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Sport360°'s Kara Martin talks to some of the runners to find out a little more about their personal missions.
Some 20,000 competitors are expected to line up at the start line – making it the biggest ever field since its inception in 2000 when just 249 people run the marathon!
OMAR ABU OMAR
Distance running: 10km (was hoping to do the full marathon, but I got ill last month due to over-training).
Why I entered? The Dubai Marathon was the first competitive run that I participated in a year ago and I really enjoyed the experience. I never took part in such runs and this was a good start. I was encouraged by some friends and I had been training for a few months with a running crew organised by Duplays.
Why this event? The route was beautiful. The sense of achievement after the run is priceless! I went on to do eight other competitive runs in 2012.
How have you been training? I go running three-four times a week for varying distances and in varying forms – light jogs, interval running and long-distance jogging around the city. In addition to that I have been doing cardio work in the gym, swimming and playing football whenever possible to build endurance and stamina.
Distance running: Marathon
Why have you chosen to enter this particular run? To test my body, I’m a High Performance Coach.
What’s your goal on raceday? A sub-4-hour marathon.
What’s the most enjoyable element of the Dubai Marathon? Last time I had great fun up to 34km, then it started to get ugly.
Will you be running to music? What will be on your playlist? No, I normally just listen to audio books and podcasts or chat to people.
Running shoe of choice? Nike Pegasus.
How have you been training for this event? I use my InnerFight training systems and have run twice a week for 7 weeks.
Distance Running: 10km. It’s my first time, and I would consider it a personal achievement to finish.
How you’ve been training? I run in Safa Park once or twice a week. I also play football which helps with my stamina and my breathing.
Favourite tracks to run to? Markus Schulz – it gives me a boost to run faster.
Why do you run, and why this event? The run itself is very satisfying, especially when it is in a magnificent place like Downtown.
How will you celebrate crossing the finish? I will definitely need some food! I’ll go for a “Faja3” session (‘excessive eating’ in Arabic) with my friends.
Distance Running: Marathon
Why this event? Living in Dubai, it’s the main running event of the year that everyone gears up towards. It’s hard to be a runner in the UA E and not get caught up in it.
What is your race day goal? To run below 3hr 30min.
Will you be running to music? No, I will be enjoying the atmosphere, listening and smiling to the chatter around me and keeping an eye out for the elite athletes.
Preferred running shoe? Asics Cumulus, which I like for its cushioning.
How have you been training? I have an online coach who provides me with a specific programme.
Distance Running: Marathon (my 6th)
Why the Dubai Marathon? I’m using it as a build-up to the Two Oceans run in South Africa in March and Iron Man events in the US in summer.
What is your race day goal? To finish comfortably after running last week’s Muscat Marathon.
What’s the most enjoyable element of this event? The 400 metres to the finish line. Running is an integral part of my youth policy, pretty tough competing against my age group so I take wins against my younger running buddies as the elixir of life.
Pre-race breakfast? Chai Seeds, a magnesium shot, banana and an espresso twoplus hours beforehand.
Distance running: The 10km and hoping for a new personal best of under an hour.
What’s in it for you? I’ve been running for a almost a year-and-a-half and my first-ever 10km race was January 13, 2012. I’m also doing this as part of my training for the London Marathon in April for a charity called ‘Merlin’. They provide emergency medical relief to countries in need. My fundraising page is www.justgiving.com/Ghadeer-Arafah.
What do you love about running? I didn’t always love it as I wasn’t a very athletic kid. But ever since I’ve started running I’ve never ever regretted it. I love how running is a community itself. When I see a runner training on the roads, I immediately feel a kinship towards them and urge them mentally to have a great run. Every race I’ve run has.
Distance running: Marathon
Why did you choose this event? I did it last year and quite enjoyed it. I thought the support and the atmosphere was very good.
How long have you been training: Six months, but I’m a terrible runner. I used to be rugby player – ex-professional at London Irish, Bristol and Exeter Chiefs – so I’m quite heavy. No matter how hard I train, I struggle. Don’t expect a record-breaking time.
Tell us about the charity you are running for: I’m running to raise awareness about what’s going on with the tiger because not many people know that it’s the most endangered animal on the world wildlife list and it’s going to be extinct within 10 years. The Bengal Tiger has the largest percentage of tiger population, and there’s only about 1,700 left in the wild. They roam in India and are being killed off at a rate of 4-5 a week.
The government are almost brainwashing the community into thinking that the tiger is bad so that they will kill them off and have that land to build property on. Someone also told me that you could actually buy them on the black market, which I just found ridiculous. So through looking up tiger charities I found and decided on the charity ‘Tiger Awareness’.
Has there been any local interest in your cause? Yes, 10 of us will be running for Tiger Feet, a local charity group we created. Most will be wearing ‘tiger socks’ (compression socks with a tiger stripe print), with orange running vests featuring the Tiger Feet logo.
How much have you raised so far? We’re just over £2000 (Dh11,628), and we’ll get a lot of last-minute donations coming through, so I’m hoping we’ll get about £4000 (Dh23,255). How can people donate?
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, scheduled for January 25, will be looking at 2012 Paris Marathon champion Tirfi Tsegaye from Ethopia to continue the course’s record setting ways after two-time reigning women’s champion Asselefech Medessa pulled out due to injury.
In April, the 28 year-old won the Paris Marathon in 2:21.40, while in Berlin in September she finished runner-up and improved her personal best to 2:21.19.
With a star-studded field of women coming together for the 14th staging of the Middle East’s only IAAF Gold Label Marathon, event organisers are confident of yet another closely run race.
“Last year we saw three women break 2:20 in Dubai and Tirfi’s recent performances suggest she is highly capable of joining that elite group,” said Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon event director Peter Connerton.
“None of the three ladies who broke 2:20 in 2012 had run sub-2:20 before they raced in Dubai so there is no reason why it can’t be done again.”
Joining Tirfi will be fellow Ethiopian and running partner Koren Jelela, who boasts a personal best of 2:22.43 and Kenyan-born Swede Isabellah Andersson, with a personal best of 2:23.41.
The marathon will see around 20,000 runners take the start line. In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, 103.8FM, JW Marriott Marquis, Emaar, Sport360°, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA. Participants must register online only at www.dubaimarathon.org.
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon has been awarded the Gold Label status by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the second consecutive year.
It is the first time any athletics event in the region has won a back-to-back IAAF Gold Label.
As online entries continue to flood in for the 2013 edition, which will get underway from Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai on January 25, event director Peter Connerton said he was proud that the Dubai Marathon continues to cement its place among the world’s premier road races.
“When the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon was recognised last year, it was the first time a Middle East running event of any kind had gained IAAF Road Race Gold Label status, so to do it for a second straight year is a tribute to everyone involved in making it such a success,” he said.
To qualify for IAAF Gold Label status, an event has to satisfy a number of criteria including global media and TV coverage, the variety of international competitors and the quality of their previous race times.
In the men’s competition, Dubai now has the fourth fastest course record/time in marathon history behind Boston, Berlin and Frankfurt.
In the women’s event, Dubai is now placed fourth in the world behind London, Chicago and Berlin in terms of course record/time, while the top-10 average times in the history of the event (2:21:16) also places Dubai fourth in the marathon league table behind London, Chicago and Berlin respectively.