Never let it be said Dubai isn’t ‘runner friendly’. It may be warm, a tad sandy and yes, there are far more appealing ways to spend your Friday, but one thing which cannot be denied is the city’s impressive number of options when it comes to staying fit.
Banish memories of the nasty, biting discomfort as you draw back each breath in the European cold weather and forget arriving home after a painful 10km in the onslaught of driving (sideways) in the rain.
Eight months of the year, running in Dubai is a veritable dream. The other four aren’t impossible, or all that bad. Call it ‘fair-weather’ if you will. Love Dubai but don’t know where to start? Read on.
Reebok Run Club
The Reebok Run club’s range of training programmes resumed after the summer break, the perfect introduction to all things running. Beginners and experts (you know, those fully fledged striders who make it all seem so easy) can chose between four different programmes – 5km, 10km, half marathon and full-marathon training, for either three, five or eight months. Run by Dubai-based Urban Energy Fitness (UEF) the sessions include strength and core classes, social breakfasts, pasta nights before races, as well as weekly nutrition, injury prevention and training tips to boot.
‘The 5km and 10km programmes are suitable for beginners and intermediate runners,’ says UEF director, Laurence Arca Bathe. ‘Participants of half marathons should be able to run 6km and marathon runners 10km by now.’
Dubai Marina, www.urbanenergyfitness.com (055 886 9158)
The Dubai Creek Striders
DCS does exactly that – stride (or shuffle, depending on fitness/speed/ability) along the banks of the famous lifeline of the city. Home of the Johnson Arabia DCS Half Marathon, often referred to as ‘the world’s most beautiful half’, DCS is the largest running club dedicated to long-distance pavement pounding.
A friendly bunch, new members are always welcome and a Dh10 contribution gets you water, energy drinks (the occasional sneaky end of a Snickers bar – for energy reserves of course) at regular petrol station stops along the way. If you’re lucky enough to join the brigade on the day of the Creek Classic, you’ll even get a breather on an Abra hop.
DCS aren’t ‘pacist’ – all levels are catered for in varying pace groups – but they do ask you can run 10km. Interval and tempo training is also open to all on a Tuesday from 6pm.
Dubai Creek, www.dubaicreekstriders.org (no number)
The ABRaS AC has just announced dates for the Mina 10km Series 2013-14 race on October 18. The Dubai-based athletics club is primarily focused on endurance running with training aimed at road running from 5km to a marathon. ABRaS AC trains all year round and as the website suggests, training may be considered ‘hard’ although they still vow to accommodate all. Like it or not, things feel a lot more ‘serious’ with these guys. Typical road sessions cover 10-12km in the summer and 15-20km in the winter. Training times are Monday and Wednesday at 6.30pm.
Various locations, www.abrasac.org (no number)
Dubai Road Runners
According to Dubai Road Runners (DRR), ‘you don’t stop when you get old, you get old when you stop’. Founded in 1989, DRR is the oldest running club in Dubai, known for their ‘accepting’ policy for runners of all abilities. The DRR annual 10km race has been held every year since 1991 and in 1994, the weekly club meeting, known as The Predictor – a time trial around Safa Park – put the club on the map. Each runner can elect to run either one or two laps against the clock, 3.4km per lap, predicting their own time. The closest to prediction wins a prize. DRR is also certainly a family-friendly club with children accommodated for too. A contribution of Dh5 allows you to attend the predictor on Saturday at 6.30pm at Safa Park, interval training on Sunday and Tuesday at 6pm at Al Barsha Park.
Al Barsha Park, Safa Park, www.dubairoadrunners.com (no number)
Nike Run Club
If weight-loss, health or the general feel-good factor isn’t enough to inspire, how about words, courtesy of Nike Run Club. ‘If you can run a lap, run a mile. If you can run a mile, run a race. Run two. Run faster. Run further.’ Don’t you feel more capable already? Around since 2010, the free Nike running clubs at Downtown Dubai, JBR and Dubai Festival City really hit the headlines just last year as the pioneers behind the Light Up Dubai 10km night run on the Palm Jumeirah. Professional trainers set the route each week, with the occasional cross-training session thrown in.
Various locations, www.werundubai.com (no number)