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Annual health and fitness event at Yas Marina Circuit raises hundreds of thousands of dirhams for health disease research

Thousands of athletes united to celebrate the memory of the Father of the Nation, H.H. Sheikh Zayed, as today’s marathon held in his honour surpassed the previous attendance record.

Yas Marina Circuit became a sea of runners of different ages, nationalities and abilities, with children, disabled athletes, professional runners and even a resident in his late 70s taking part in the unique day-to-night race.

Now in its 12th year, the Zayed Marathon has become a call to action of national running unity, mixing displays of UAE cultural traditions with a range of family entertainment and a celebration of healthy living.

This year, in order to better prepare people taking part, regular Run Clubs were organised in the weeks leading up to the race. With four weekly events at Yas Island Parkland North, Mushrif park, Zayed Sports City and Al Bateen, the clubs saw more than 350 attendees taking part each week and provided inspiration, training assistance and practical tips for anyone registering for the Zayed Marathon.

The money from registration fees and donations, will go towards health disease research.

Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “His Highness Sheikh Zayed would have been proud to see people from all walks of life join to celebrate the spirit of giving that is a cornerstone of UAE national identity.

“We would like to thank the runners, co-organisers and volunteers who have once again made the Zayed Marathon such a special day for everyone taking part. We are committed at Yas Marina Circuit, along with our key partners to effecting a positive change in residents’ lives in Abu Dhabi.”

The race featured two distances around Yas Marina Circuit, a 10K and 5K run, as well as a 5K “Hand Cycle” race for wheelchair competitors. Young runners took part in the 1K and 3K KidsRUN. Registration data revealed that 15 per cent of all participants were UAE Nationals.

The winner of the 1K female race was Clara Mourgue Dalgue, who completed the course in 4 mins and 16 seconds, with Benjamin Weston winning the male 1K race in 3 mins and 38 seconds. In the 3K, the female winner was Isabel Hanna Van Der Brug (13 mins, 09 seconds), with the 3K male winner, Yamato Hokari, finishing in 11 mins and 18 seconds.

The 5K female honours went to Aynalem Woldemichael (16 mins and 31 seconds), with Aziz Lahbabi winning the male 5K in 13 mins and 43 seconds. The 10K female winner was Faith Chepkoech (32 mins and 47 seconds), with the male 10K winner, Benard Korir, crossing the line in 28 mins and 01 seconds.

Proving that age is no barrier to health and fitness, 76-year-old Shreepad Bakshi was the oldest runner in the field.

The Indian national jogged the 5K course – his first ever organised race – with his son Sumit and daughter-in-law Preeti. Together they wheeled along Shreepad’s two grandsons in baby strollers.

He said: “For the past 30 years I’ve been a regular walker. Every day, I wake up at 5am and cover close to 10K over the full day. I feel very energetic after my walks. It keeps me young. Sheikh Zayed was a great man and what we are seeing today is all his efforts taking fruit.”

The Zayed Marathon is organised by the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel in collaboration with Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, and Abu Dhabi Education Council. They are supporting the run in order to foster healthier and fitter communities and a sense of inclusiveness among the UAE’s residents.

Lt General Mohammad Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel, said: “We are proud to see today’s Zayed Marathon, has become the call to action to get the UAE running. Ever since we held the first Zayed Marathon in 2005, we have seen it continue to gain momentum, appealing to a wider range of the community and featuring more and more family entertainment. Next year we want to take Zayed Marathon past Yas Marina Circuit’s walls and get people doing their own Zayed Marathon runs to celebrate The Day the UAE Runs if they can’t physically get to the circuit."

The Zayed Marathon wasn’t just about the action on the track. The main stage saw live entertainment, while around the circuit, visitors enjoyed acrobat displays, street performances, as well as, Acro Yoga, Parkour displays, and a children’s craft zone.

The event also presented an opportunity to gauge the health and fitness of those taking part. All entrants had their BMI index and other data measured on site as part of the Yas Marina Circuit’s ongoing ‘Big Data’ health audit initiative to benchmark the UAE’s activity habits.

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