Everything gets busier and more exciting during the UAE’s cooler season, including our training and fitness.
Each weekend brings a new running race, and a fresh chance to challenge ourselves along with hundreds, or even thousands, of others from our local community.
Whether you’re hooked on that euphoric finishing feeling, or you simply need some extra motivation to start your morning jogs again, check out these heart-pumping, thrilling and enjoyable running races that are kicking off in the UAE this winter.
ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon
One of the nation’s most famous marathons, the fourth edition of the legendary ADNOC race will be taking over the Corniche Road on Saturday, December 17. With a marathon, marathon relay, 10km, 5km and 2.5km routes, it has pretty much every distance covered, and the route past the bright blue waters of the Arabian Gulf and UAE capital’s majestic skyscrapers is truly wonderful. Plus, if any non-running family or friends want to get involved, being a volunteer for this joyous occasion is just as much fun as participating (and there’s no risk of blisters). Dec 17, Abu Dhabi Corniche. Adnocabudhabimarathon.com.
Al Ain Oasis Fun Run
If simply the thought of attempting Al Ain’s notorious Jebel Hafeet run is enough to give you a stitch, why not explore the UAE’s Garden City via the cool and flat paths of the Al Ain Oasis instead? Providing the perfect excuse to escape the hectic city lifestyle for the weekend, it’s a good-natured and friendly run that’s all about having fun. An important national heritage site, the stunning oasis contains 147,000 date and fruit trees, and the near constant shade makes it a great route for beginners. Not only that, but with everything over and done with by 9.30am, you’ll still have plenty of time to visit the camel market, zoo and drive (or cycle, if your legs will still carry you) up to the top of the aforementioned famous peak before bed time. Nov 26, Al Ain. Premieronline.com.
Expo City Dubai Run
Runners from across the UAE will be thrilled to hear that the conclusion of Expo 2020 Dubai didn’t put an end to the hugely popular Expo races. Letting families and friends relive the magic of the monumental world fair — without all the huge crowds and queues) — the newly opened Expo City is hosting a family-friendly run as part of this year’s Dubai Fitness Challenge. Showing off the UAE’s first fully pedestrianized community via 3km, 5km, 10km and 15km routes, you’ll be tempted to hang around afterwards to explore the numerous food trucks, relaxing green spaces and fascinating pavilions.
Nov 12, Expo City, Dubai. Premieronline.com.
HealthPlus Diabetes Day Run
Held in support of World Diabetes Day, Jubail Mangrove Park’s first organized run invites experienced runners to have a go at smashing their 5km personal best in a competitive time-trial race, while those of all fitness levels are free revel in the area’s natural beauty during the 5km and 2.5km fun runs. Starting just before sunset and following the floating boardwalks and through peaceful cross-country paths, it’s the perfect chance to witness the luscious protected mangrove forests at their best as the sky turns orange around you. Nov 12, Jubail Mangrove Park, Abu Dhabi. Inphota.com.
The Dubai Run
Seeing both sides of Sheikh Zayed Road packed with people for the Dubai Run is a surreal experience. Widely regarded as the world’s largest free run, the 5km and 10km routes pass iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the Museum of the Future and the Dubai Opera. Part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge, 146,000 participants were recorded for the 2021 hosting and even Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai, was spotted amongst the crowds. This year’s edition looks like it’s going to be even bigger. Nov 20, Downtown Dubai. Dubairun.com.
Zayed Charity Marathon
Founded in 2001 in tribute to Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the nation, the Zayed Charity Marathon is returning this November for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With entries priced at only Dh57.75 for the 3km, 5km and 10km races, it’s arguably one of the most inclusive occasions on the running calendar. Reflecting Sheikh Zayed’s passion for humanitarian causes, every entrant is encouraged to donate to the Emirates Red Crescent, and the route from Erth Abu Dhabi Hotel provides amazing views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. While long-distance runners might be disappointed that it doesn’t actually offer a marathon distance, it’s still a joyful, special and community-spirited event that allows you to say thank you to the man who created our home, and give back to those in need. Nov 19, Erth (Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel), Abu Dhabi. zayedmarathon.com.
Harriet Shephard is an Abu Dhabi-based copywriter and freelance journalist with a particular focus on fitness, travel and lifestyle, which, along with good food, also happen to be her main passions when she's not typing away at her laptop.