As January is a great month to start a new health and fitness regime, or to ramp up whatever you’ve got going now, signing up to compete in a race or run can prove a valuable motivator. So here is a list of some of the best UAE races for the year ahead to keep you motivated.
Al Wathba Cycle Race 2020 — Abu Dhabi
Both casual and hardcore riders alike can participate in the Al Wathba Cycle Race 2020, held at one of the UAE’s most popular cycling hotspots. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the January 3 afternoon into evening cycle race offers options from 90 kilometers, which involves three rounds of the track’s 30-kilometer loop, 60 or 30 kilometers. There are also junior races of 8km and 16km.
- Casual to professional cyclists. Dh75 for adults, Dh55 for kids. January 3, registration from 2.30pm. Adsc.ae
Cigna Park Run — Dubai
For a fun, low-commitment challenge, look no further than the free-to-enter Cigna Park Run. A timed fun run for all ages and abilities, this monthly fitness event is designed to take families out of their homes to a nearby community space or park. The runs take place on the first Saturday of every month starting at 8am. The Cigna Park Run requires you to enter only once, then from that point forward, just turn up on the first Saturday of each month with your shirt and your timing chip.
- First Saturday of every month. From 8am. Runs are free, one-time registration required. Cignaparkrun.com
ADCB Make-A-Wish 5 & 10km Run — Abu Dhabi
Charity fitness events are a powerful motivator and a way to give back. The ADCB Zayed Sports City 5 & 10K run returns to Zayed Sports City on January 10, celebrating and supporting the 10th anniversary of Make-A-Wish UAE Foundation. All runners will receive a Make-A-Wish star-shaped medal and a signature blue commemorative T-shirt. The #WeRunAsOne event will also feature a one-mile run for kids and families.
- Runs starting from 7.45am on Friday, January 10. Dh100 to Dh180. Adsc.ae
Ras Al Khaimah Triathlon — Ras al Khaimah
This is the first-ever Ras Al Khaimah Triathlon, held on Al Marjan Island January 17. With stunning scenery, a flat race course perfect for first-timers, all ages and abilities are welcome to enter with four different distances to choose from ranging from junior super sprint to Olympic. Alternatively, participants can enter a relay team of two or three athletes.
- Check in opens at 6.30am, Friday, January 17. Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island. Entry Dh150 to Dh195. Supersportsuae.com
Urban-Ultra BIG Stinker — Ras al Khaimah
Billed as one of the toughest solo foot races in the UAE, the main event in this race is a run up and over a 540 metre mountain. Participants challenging themselves in the January 18 Urban-Ultra BIG Stinker can choose from a 15-kilometer, 30km or – for the hardcore adrenalin junkie – 45km ultra-distance. Participants can also choose to camp ahead of the race on top of the mountain or drive up the morning of.
- Registration fee is Dh300; Ras Al Khaimah. Registration closes January 11. Race is on January 18 at 7am. UrbanUltra.com
Triathlon Al Hudayriat 2020 — Abu Dhabi
Boasting a protected swim course, a traffic-free looped bike course and a running course with a twist, the triathlon at Al Hudayriat Island also offers a long course option, with a 3 kilometer swim, 100km bike ride and 10km run.
There’s also Olympic Individual and Relay (1500-meter swim/ 41km bike/10km run), the Sprint Individual and Relay (750m swim/21km bike/5km run) and the Super Sprint Individual and Relay (375m swim/ 11km bike/2.5km run).
- Entry fees from Dh125 to Dh200. Al Hudayriat Island. Check in starts at 5.30am on Friday, January 31. Adsc.ae
Dubai’s Desert Warrior Challenge — Dubai
The popular Dubai’s Desert Warrior Challenge offers an obstacle course-style race, designed to test both physical strength and mental tenacity, at Al Qudra Lakes. There will be more than 22 obstacles – one of them a dark, water-filled tunnel – across the 10 kilometers and 12 obstacles in the 5km race. There are also team options and Junior Warrior obstacle races of one to two kilometres.
- Entry fees from Dh99 to Dh588. Al Qudra Lakes, Dubai. Friday, February 14. Desertwarriorchallenge.com
Urban-Ultra Hajar 30/50/100 — Ras al Khaimah
Hardcore fitness enthusiasts look no further than the Urban-Ultra Hajar 30/50/100, where they can tackle three distances and run through mountain passes, along jeep tracks, through boulder ravines and over the spectacular sand dunes of Ras Al Khaimah.
Organisers bill the event as a tough challenge and one that requires rigorous training. But there are generous cut-off times (24hrs for 100 kilometers, 12hrs for 50km, 5.5hrs 30km) allowing most physically fit, determined and well-prepared runners to reach the finish line. There is roughly 3300 metres of elevation over the 100km distance. This is also an eco-conscious race: bring your own cups, bowl and fork for the food provided at race checkpoints.
- Entry fees from Dh630 to Dh893. Starting from the Golden Tulip Hotel Khatt Springs, from 5.30am, Friday, February 14. Urbanultra.com
Jebel Hafeet Challenge — Al Ain
An event billed as the ultimate test for mind, fitness, endurance, speed and grit, the Jebel Hafeet Challenge takes place on the UAE’s second highest peak of 1,240 metres. Run 12.5km up the mountain, starting from the Green Mubazzarah park. A bonus is the view from the mountain at the finish line.
- Entry fees from Dh250. Check in from 6am. Green Mubazzarah Park, Al Ain, Friday, March 20. Premieronline.com
Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon — Dubai
Named after the popular triathlete who founded TriDubai, the Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon is now in its eighth year.
Nasr was killed by a motorist while on a training ride in Safa Park in 2013, before he could realize his dream of building RaceME. His legacy lives on through what has become a successful race events management company.
- Entry Dh219 to Dh714. Start time from 6.30am Saturday, October 10. Raceme.com
Urban-Ultra Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2020 —Sharjah
In collaboration with Dubai Roadsters, this non-competitive cycle challenge takes participants east from the coastal Sharjah lagoons, through the Hajar Mountains across to the coast of Kalba and then north all the way to Fujairah until riders hit their final destination; Le Meridien Al Aqah. The route stretches 215 kilometres with approximately 1,300 metres of elevation along roads, winding through dunes, over mountains and along the east coast highway to the finish line.
- Entry Dh578 to Dh671. Starting from 6am, Friday, November 20. Coasttocoastcyclechallenge.com
Jennifer Bell is an award-winning British journalist. She has worked for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates as well as the The Press, in the United Kingdom. Based in Abu Dhabi, she splits her time working for Arab News and PRWeek Middle East. She also contributes to regional titles including Gulf News, Arab Weekly, Arabian Business, and The Business Voice.