Dubai’s sporting community likes to push itself to new extremes. We don’t know if it’s the city, with its love of superlatives, or if we just have a super sporty population, but residents like a chance to take workouts to new levels.
A new event that’s been generating a bit of sandstorm on social media and in the changing rooms of the city’s gyms is the Desert Warrior Challenge (DWC). From what we’ve seen already it looks pretty tough. We speak to the event’s co-founder, Troy Gillham, to find out what the city’s fitness fanatics are letting themselves in for.
There’s been quite a buzz about this new race. Tell us more about what it entails?
It’s essentially an adventure obstacle course. There are a few different elements to it so that anyone can enter. The Ultimate Warrior is a timed 10km course with 24 obstacles and each of them have a timing chip on them. Once it begins, it’s a flat-out race through the obstacle course. The Desert Warrior, which is the main category of the event, takes place on the same 10km course and also has 24 obstacles. But the focus in this race is on the enjoyment of challenging yourself, not the time it takes to get through the course. We also have the Fearless Warrior, a 5km version.
What kind of obstacles are on the course?
The DWC is based on military exercise. I’ve done a lot of military physical training so the idea came from that. You’ll be expected to climb ropes, crawl through different kinds of tunnels and carry heavy objects over a certain distance. There are lots of water obstacles, a huge amount of mud and slippery ground and sand dunes. So there are a variety of military obstacles but they’re toned down.
What’s the main difference between the Ultimate Warrior and the Desert Warrior categories?
With the Desert Warrior you can sign up with friends or colleagues. It’s still just as challenging but you can do it at your own pace. It’s not a competition with the other people around you; it’s designed to be a supportive community event, so everyone will help each other to get through the obstacles. We will have staff at each to motivate people and help them get through.
What level of fitness do people need to be at in order to take part safely?
We have a massive variety of people taking part, from hardcore personal trainers to novices. It’s hard to say exactly what level you must be at because really the course can be completed at your own speed. Even if you’re uncomfortable with any of the obstacles, you can skip them. It’s not compulsory to do anything out there. I think it would help if you’re active a couple of times a week. If you want to really tackle the course you will need some endurance and upper body strength for the obstacles.
Why do you think this will appeal in Dubai?
It’s a little bit different to running on a track or on the road. I think people get scared of track running when they see that it’s such a big lap. They don’t think they’ll be able to run it or that they have to be die-hard athletes to do so. The aim with this is to try and draw people in by adding a little bit of fun and different aspects to training.
Where’s it going to be held?
It’s a secret at the moment, but I can say that the location is part of a hotel in Dubai, and the event will be on its land. The space is perfect for the challenge as it is easily accessible and food and beverages will be served outside.
So after all that effort, what are the prizes?
There will be cash prizes for the first three places in The Ultimate Warrior event. Then we have a couple of funny different prizes for a variety of competitions to be held in the other three categories, such as for best dressed team and best individual for effort on the day.
Do you already have plans to do a second event?
Yes, definitely. We’re still confirming the date but it will be before summer next year. The other emirates are excited about the launch in Dubai and are keen to see what it’s like so we can set up the same sort of thing with them. The Dubai Sports Council has been a great support and we are also hoping to launch an Inter-School Cup for children aged 12-17 years.
Dhs315-Dhs470. Friday October 17, www.desertwarriorchallenge.com (no number).
Prepare for the challenge with these workouts
Desert Warrior training course
The session is pretty tough but it will get you physically and mentally geared up. Desert Warrior Challenge participants get discounted classes.
Dhs1,440 for 24 sessions, Dhs80 per session (members); Dhs1,800 for 24 sessions, Dhs100 per session (non-members). Sun, Tue, Thu 7am and 6pm, Fri 9am. The Warehouse Gym, Umm Suqeim Road, Al Quoz, www.whgym.com (04 323 2323).
This all-round fitness class includes weights and cardio, which will help you get up and over when it comes to the obstacle course in the big October challenge.
Free first session, packages Dhs650-950 per month. Sun 8.30pm and Tue 5.30pm. Reebok CrossFit LifeSpark, Concorde Tower, Cluster H, JLT, www.reebokcrossfitlifespark.com (04 450 8234).
Head to social gym Tribefit to try a high-intensity group workout combining a series of differing yet challenging drills.
Tribefit, Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina, www.tribefit.com (800 87423).