There are some events that make you realise just how special the Dubai running community is. The Iftar Challenge, held on 15th June and organised by local club Desert Road Runners, certainly made one appreciate the dedication of so many runners, who ignored the searing heat and stifling humidity to take part in this annual event.
On the day of our launch, Chasing Zest were at the race to chat with participants and take in the atmosphere. We must give special thanks to Omar Abu Omar for the fantastic photos that accompany this event report. Omar is a runner and photographer who blogs regularly on his website and documents both his running and photography via his Instagram account. Read more about the Iftar Challenge and view Omar’s images in our event report below. Enjoy!
First held in 1998, the Iftar Challenge moved back to Mushrif Park this year after being held at Dubai Autodrome for the last couple of years. This change in venue was welcomed by runners, as it offered a much more interesting course that still included some hills.
In another change, the race was moved to June so that it returned to its traditional Ramadan slot, as opposed to during September (the Holy Month of Ramadan moves each year, so the Iftar Challenge had become slightly out of sync). With the Junior 2km race starting at 6:40 and the adult 5km commencing at 19:10, the event started at an appropriate time for fasting runners.
Turnout was high to say that the Iftar Challenge takes place at one of the most challenging times of year for runners. Despite temperatures of around 39 degrees Celsius (102F) at the start, just over 40 juniors took part in the 2km race, and over 180 adults participated in the 5km event. Seeing so many runners, of different abilities and from different clubs, lining up to start in such demanding weather was truly inspiring.
In the 2km Junior event, Lukas-Sebastian Ellis was the first runner home in a time of 7:44. He was followed by Max Preston (7:56) and Mark Agent (9:04). Cerys Dingle (8:09) took first place for the girls with Théa Janne d’Othee (8:21) and Mahati Iyyappan (9:28) in second and third place respectively.
The Men’s 5km saw a close finish between Graham O’ Donoghue (18:13) and Chris McCann (18:15). Tristan Monchablon joined the top three in a time of 18:30.
The women’s event, which started a couple of minutes after the men’s race, resulted in another victory for first placed female and overall winner Emily Waugh (18:02). Megan Dingle (19:29) and Juliette Janne d’Othee (19:33) proved that they are more than capable of competing with the adults, and made up the top three.
Iftar Challenge | The Verdict
The Iftar Challenge is a fantastic local event that is incredibly well organised. The UAE running scene has seen a big shift in the last couple of years, with the emphasis seemingly being on companies making a profit rather than thinking about the experience from a runner’s point of view. We are therefore thrilled that this event goes from strength to strength each year, despite the challenging conditions.
The Iftar Challenge brings running back to what it should be about; friendly rivalry, inclusivity and enjoyment. Special thanks must be given to the volunteers who acted as marshals and timekeepers, as well as sponsors MonViso and Puma.
You can see full results, including age group standings, on the Hopasports website here.