Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes was among the over 7,000 participants of different ages, including two centenarians, who descended on Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday as the popular Color Run made its debut in the UAE capital.
Exploding in popularity since its January 2012 launch, the Color Run has become the single-largest event series in the United States and is gaining traction around the world with China, Australia and Peru hosting successful runs – dubbed the ‘Happiest 5km on the planet’.
Dubai held the first Color Run in the UAE last December, which proved to be a success with over 8,000 participants.
And judging by the faces of the participants, Abu Dhabi was no different.
Activelife ambassadors Holmes and Egyptian triathlete Omar Nour began proceedings for the event, presented by Daman Activelife, at 08:30.
The participants were showered with a kaleidoscope of coloured powder as they ran, walked or jogged around the Formula One track with their families and friends, in a run that saw $1 (Dh3.67) of each entry donated to Operation Smile, a charity organisation.
While ensuring the run had its elements of fun, the participants – some of who came in fancy dress outfits– were smeared with vibrant colours and embraced Daman’s goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging people to exercise.
Chief commercial officer of Daman Dr Sven Rohte said: “The Color Run presented by Daman’s Activelife has united the capital, bringing a unique sense of fun to all who took part whilst also promoting an active lifestyle.
“The Color Run’s key focus on community spirit and healthy living really embodies our philosophy here at Daman, as we, through our Activelife initiative, aim to inspire individuals, families and entire communities to lead healthier lives.
“Hopefully, today’s event will be just the tip of the iceberg for many as the community are encouraged to carry on enjoying running and, in turn, lead more active lives.”
And Saturday’s event seems to have done its trick in spreading the message to the participants to exercise after completing the run.
“I’ve done some runs in Texas, but this is completely new to me,” said Jean McIntosh, 67 who is on a visit from United States, after her run.
“I ran with my daughter and grandson and had never planned to run here during my visit; it was so amazing. I usually do a lot of runs but this was just so fun.”
Carina Devlin, 43, from Abu Dhabi competed with her husband Declan, 42, daughter Louise, 10, and son James, 6, for what was their first Color Run.
“It’s a really great idea to have this,” said Carina. “It’s been so much fun and people were running, jogging and walking around here.
“We thought it would be a really good day out for the family and so far it has. We will most definitely run again as it has a lot of health benefits.”
And Sara Sami, 23, who took part in the run for the first time along with her friends Laima Ibrahim and Mina Raafat, said it was her “happiest day ever”.
“It feels great. We used a lot of energy and I would say it was my happiest day ever,” she said. “I will take part in future races for sure. You see people you have never met before and don’t know each other; it’s great concept.”
While plenty were absorbing the experience of just taking part in the run, many took pictures after being showered with different colour powders before moving to the ‘finish festival’ where participants ended the day with music entertainment.
And, incidentally, the Abu Dhabi event marked the first Color Run of the global event series to take place on a Formula One track.
With two successful runs in UAE, people will be hoping they won’t have to wait long for the next Color Run in the country.
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