Ditch the gym and get on track with these ten top winter running routes
Burj Park The perimeter around this park, set right in the middle of Burj Lake, offers a 5km concrete circuit that circles an expanse of green, with, of course, the Burj Khalifa looming large in the background. If you can’t take the burn you’ll feel quite quickly in your thighs when running on those bouncy soft-track surfaces, this is the track for you. (You can also cut right through the middle of it and run across the grass if you get too tired to make it to the finish.) With its prime location just across the bridge from The Dubai Mall (and thanks to a handy little kiosk that you’ll pass) provisions aren’t a necessity here. Combine the run with a post-workout refuel at Social House in the mall, sitting outside overlooking the lake and The Dubai Fountain, enjoying a morning coffee you’ll most certainly have earned. (Provided you didn’t cut across the grass, that is.) Downtown Dubai.
District One Cycling & Running Track Head out to Nad Al Sheba and run the 8.4km of this soft-surface track, set within the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, District One development. You’ll have those classic Burj Khalifa and Business Bay views around you, as well as Meydan Racecourse, which creeps into vision as you begin to complete the circuit. Since the track is essentially in the middle of a building site, you’ll need to bring plenty of food and water supplies with you, as you’ll need to complete the track in full to get back to where you began (and parked your car). There are no shortcuts to the end of this one. The route takes you around the up-and-coming development, with some luxurious completed villas and apartments to admire at the beginning. You’ll also get a glimpse of the impressive central lake, which appears suddenly, and mirage-like, becoming a glittering oasis as your run comes to an end. Expect to see lots of serious cyclists whizz past, as well as families tackling both tracks. The bike path is also a great surface for rollerblading if running or cycling isn’t really your thing. Nad Al Sheba, www.facebook.com/d1cyclingandrunning.
Dubai Marina Promenade
If you’re practising for a 10K and aren’t quite there yet, this route is a great place to push yourself. The 8km loop passes by the picturesque scenes of the yachts berthed in the marina and the skyscrapers beyond, though don’t miss the detour at the far end to cross the bridge. There are plenty of spots to stop, rest and refuel if needs be – benches by water features and cafés with huge outdoor seating spaces. If you choose this as your running spot at the weekend, head over early, as it gets busy later in the day with tourists snapping the scenic views and residents shopping, dining and taking long, leisurely walks. It’s a classic Dubai running spot and a great route to tackle if you live close by.
It’s one of the newest promenades to have opened up in town and it’s also one of the most scenic. Set off on an early morning weekend run and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Canal and the buildings of Business Bay and Al Habtoor city as you run around it. But do this run at night and this is where the new promenade really comes into its own. Start at the Al Habtoor City end and just take a moment to take in the cool, purple lights that the area is bathed in and the waterfall, adding an otherworldliness to this stunning, city centre attraction. It’s also very flat, which is a bonus. There are plenty of food and beverage options along the way, and if you end in Al Habtoor City, the classic Brit pub The Rose & Crown awaits with its classic interiors and proper pub grub. This is a top pick for your winter training programme. Business Bay to Jumeirah.
This is a great new spot in the city for a morning jog if you want to mix up both the terrain and the views. Start at La Mer North, on the wooden decking that leads you through the development, restaurants and cafés on your left, the beach to your right. Breathe in the sea air and break into a jog. If you can stick to the work out, the rewards are endless here, as there are plenty of healthy new places to stop off and refuel. Just make sure you resist the urge to ditch the run and pitch up at SALT to dig into a mountain of burgers, instead. Once you’ve completed the near kilometre of boardwalk, make your way back in a loop, this time running on the sand with the Arabian Gulf as your backdrop. Heighten your workout with a sea swim, and then hop into one of the colourful huts to take a shower, before heading to one of the many superb restaurants or cafes for a bite to eat – Hawa Hawa, Motomachi and N21 are all within earshot of your end point, as is SALT if you simply can’t resist. Jumeirah 1, www.lamer-me.com.
JLT Pick your backdrop – water or greenery – and then choose a cluster to run around. Clusters O and P are home to the latter. Jog around the park, which comes to life with families and kids playing at the weekends, as well as basketball games on the court and even a flea market if you time it right. It’s a real hive of activity that will spur you on. You’ll also be a stone’s throw from some true stalwarts of the area to end your run in – catch your breath at Nola, Mythos or Axe House at the Armada BlueBay Hotel. If you’re after a more of a serene run with a tranquil backdrop, head out to the lake at Cluster E, where you’ll also find Pressman’s Pressed Sandwiches and Mantoushe to replenish some calories, or at Cluster Y, which is just as picturesque, but has a much quieter, more relaxed feel, owing to fewer restaurants in the area. So you can enjoy the calm and the fresh air, and keep the calories off. Clusters A-Y, Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Jumeirah Corniche Make sure you’ve got a long playlist of upbeat tunes ready and crank up the volume as you pound your way around this 14km beast of a track. This one is for those serious about their street running or determined to up their fitness. You’ll feel it in your legs just a few kilometres in, but you’ll also pass some stunning scenes along the way, since it stretches from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah right the way to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa. Jog, walk or hire a Byky and cycle your way along the corniche – you’ll more than likely do all three. This is a popular spot for families, with the park and the beach along the way. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah.
This is one of Dubai’s most classic and therefore popular beaches. You’ll be joined here by beach volleyball players, kitesurfers, beach footballers, Frisbee players and groups of friends lounging and soaking up some rays, stereos pumping, picnic spreads sprawling. It’s an all-round great place to hang out at the weekend. Get some exercise in by running, barefoot, the sand between your toes, go for a dip in the sea and then round it all off with a few treats on the beach as you people-watch the day away. Your workout will feel more like a restful day at the beach with a spike of activity if you get here at midday, enjoy the lunchtime sun and run in the afternoon. Then just chill for the rest of the day. Umm Suqeim.
Palm Jumeirah Crescent
The opening of this 11km boardwalk last year increased the appeal of Palm Jumeirah running tenfold. If you want a longer workout than the 4km run up and down the trunk of the Palm, and some spectacular views thrown in, the crescent run surpasses most others. The boardwalk stretches from One&Only The Palm on the western tip, around to Rixos The Palm at the eastern end, with Atlantis The Palm looming large and marking your midway point. The view of the Arabian Gulf, and listening to the lapping waves as you run makes this a peaceful route, especially on a leisurely Friday morning. Palm Jumeirah.
The Springs There are many landscaped public spaces that run through this townhouse community. But if you don’t live here, park up at the town centre mall and walk over to the community park. A path cuts through the sprawling green space and a huge lake sits in the middle of it. It’s a long, meandering route, helped by the fact that you can alternate between running on the grass and on the pavement, easing up on the muscle burn and mixing up the intensity as you go. Note: the sprinklers in the grass are automatic and might just catch you unawares… You’ve been warned… The Springs.
Five top running clubs If you find it hard to motivate yourself to run solo, join one of these top clubs and work out with a group this winter.
Desert Road Runners Put on those running shoes and prepare to get jogging with a group of road runners (of the non Looney Tunes kind). This club is one of Dubai’s oldest running communities and it caters to all levels. It organises around five running events a year for its club members to take part in, and training takes place weekly on various surfaces, including sand at Jumeirah Beach, grass at Al Barsha Park and track at Sports City Athletics Track. Annual membership is Dhs450. www.desertroadrunners.club.
Dubai Creek Striders This non-profit running club is open to runners of all levels. They train three times a week – Mondays are for track sessions, Wednesday are for interval training and Fridays for endurance running. Join for free by signing up online and you’re ready to get out there. www.dubaicreekstriders.org.
Mirdif Milers The group meet on Mondays at Mushrif Park for a 4.5km run – twice if you have the stamina. On Wednesdays it’s interval running at Mizhar Park and on Saturdays it’s long-distance running in Khawaneej. There’s no membership fee, which makes this a top choice for dirham-savvy joggers. Runners are simply asked to contribute Dhs5 for water at the Monday run. It also costs Dhs3 to enter Mushrif Park. www.mirdifmilers.info.
Super Sports ABRaSAC This running group’s primary focus is endurance or long-distance running, so if that’s your goal, you know where to sign up. Training is on Mondays and Wednesdays and the detailed monthly schedule is emailed to members. It’s free to join and training spots include Umm Suqeim Park and Dubai Autodrome. www.supersportsabras.com.
Urban Energy Fitness Run Club The fitness centre offers three categories of club – the Walk/Run Club for absolute beginners or those coming to the sport following injury, the Zero to Hero/Beginner Run Club, for those keen to run their first 5K or 10K, and the Half Marathon & Full Marathon Run Club for experienced endurance runners. Membership packages are available and pay as you go starts from Dhs50 per session and are held at various locations. www.urbanenergyfitness.com.
Six upcoming runs to practise for Jan 26 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon
Feb 3 Vertical run, Almas Tower
Feb 17 Dubai Desert Road Run, 3K, 10K
Feb 23 Daman’s Active Life Beach Run
Mar 9 SuperSport Hatta Hills Run, 2.5K, 5K, 10K, 21K
Mar 17 Run the Track, Dubai Autodrome, 3K, 5K, 10K