Adidas Runners (and Asics and Reebok and Nike Run Club)
Launched in 2016, Adidas Runners have proved that some of the fastest-growing run clubs in the region are the ones organized by sportswear brands. Led by five-time Guinness World Record holder Lee Ryan, Adidas Runners is a tight-knit and social run club, with just as many events off the running track as on it. Across a packed schedule of social runs, sprints and even morning yoga sessions at Skydive Dubai, the group also often organize destination runs followed by a meal. The group just launched in Abu Dhabi, with plans to hold weekly 5- and 10-km runs Friday mornings. At the start of the year, Asics added Dubai to reach 30 running clubs worldwide. And the team at Urban Energy Fitness mans the Reebok Run Club, which helps prep for 5- and 10-km races as well as half-marathons and marathons. The Nike Run Club is a well-established group, and has even seen the likes of Olympic star Mo Farah join them for a casual run.
If you’re serious about your running, this is probably the club for you, but be prepared to push yourself. ABRaS Athletics meet Monday and Wednesday nights. This club focusses on endurance running, and has many of the country’s top distance runners. Training is aimed at road running from 5-km to marathon distances, so there’s plenty of scope to improve your short or long distance times. They aren’t afraid to train in harsh weather either, pledging to operate year-round and adapt training to suit “prevailing weather conditions.” Join ABRaS if you’re looking to improve your fitness level or prepare for a race. You’ll be tested on grass, track and road routes.
The Striders are the largest running group in Dubai and meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at Al Barsha Pond Park or the World Trade Centre. Runners have flocked to this group for their specially-chosen scenic jogging routes and pacing groups to suit every ability. The club also hosts a number of events throughout the year, most notably, the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon, which is held each year around December, and takes in the famed sights around Dubai Creek.
Abu Dhabi Striders is a non-profit, voluntary club welcoming runners of any ability. First established in 1984, the club has been running continually since 1992, winter and summer, 52 weeks a year. There’s a pretty packed schedule of morning and evening runs, from 4.30am to 6.30pm, taking in plenty of well-known Abu Dhabi landmarks. The schedule offers everything from long runs, intervals and pacing runs, taking place around Saadiyat Beach, Al Bateen, Khalifa City, Yas Island and other locales.
Dubai’s oldest running club (founded in 1989), meets six nights a week in various locations around town as they prepare for various events throughout the region. Formerly known as Dubai Road Runners, the club’s well-known 10-km race has been held every year since 1991. Fun fact: In 1994 the weekly club meeting known as “The Predictor” was started by John Hunter, a member of the club. The format was simple: each runner completed a time trial around one or two laps of Safa Park, guessing what their completion time would be. The runner who was closest to his or her guess, won a prize. The Predictor run is still a pivotal part of the club’s agenda in 2018. On their website, the Desert Road Runners stake their claim on the history of running in the UAE by stating: “In the early days the only rival club in the Emirates were the Abu Dhabi Striders. They had faster runners but lacked the depth of numbers.”
Hash House Harriers
This is a non-competitive running club for people who love to socialize. Runs are called hashes and no one takes themselves too seriously. The Abu Dhabi Hash House Harriers meet for runs on Monday evenings at 6.30pm, posting the meeting point and route on their website, and on the occasional weekend. According to their website: “We welcome all ages and abilities, and usually have a mix of serious runners, staggerers, runners-who-end-up-walking and just plain-out walkers.” In Dubai there’s a men-only Creek Hash House Harriers and the Desert Hash House Harriers, who call themselves “a social club with a running problem”. Both have a full calendar of runs and social events, often themed.
Featured photo courtesy of Adidas
Ashleigh Stewart is a New Zealand journalist, who has spent much of her career on the health beat, focusing most recently on mental health and wellbeing. She has worked in Japan, Indonesia, America, and has spent the last two years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. She's also an avid outdoorswoman and runner, having completed her first marathon in Dubai in 2017.