With less than a week to go until the biggest running event in the Middle East gets underway, running fever has forced event organisers to close entries to the 3km Fun Run as the countdown continues to the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
Although athletes can still enter for the classic 42.195km distance as well as the 10km race, the family oriented 3km Fun Run has proved a massive hit with 5,000 runners confirmed for the race, which starts outside The Pavilion, Downtown Dubai on Friday.
“We have simply reached saturation point for that particular category,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “This is going to be the biggest gathering of runners in the history of the event and we are grateful that so many people want to run at our new venue in Downtown Dubai.
“Due to the demand from runners after the provisional deadline of December 31, we are keeping online registration going until January 24 for the two long distance events but we simply cannot take any more entries for the 3km Fun Run category.”
While elite runners tackle the marathon course in search of record breaking times and the 10km event is a tightly contested affair, the 3km Fun Run is seen as a great family and social occasions with many charity runners and families, running, jogging or simply walking to the finish line.
Staged under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the 2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is set for a record-breaking field with more than 15,000 runners signed up for the three race categories.
Among the elite runners set to shine in the marathon itself is Mr Consistency Eshetu Wendimu of Ethiopia who returns to Dubai having finished third on the last three occasions.
His best time was in 2010 when his 2:06.46 confirmed the predictions of no less a marathon expert as three-time Dubai winner Haile Gebrselassie that Wendimu had the potential to be world-class at the event.
His credentials at the half marathon are also impressive, breaking the hour with 59:52 as runner-up by just one second behind Patrick Makau in The Hague’s City-Pier-City event in March, 2010.
That Makau broke Gebrselassie’s world marathon record in Berlin last September suggests that Wendimu has further room for improvement – and he will be looking to show just that when he tackles the marathon on Friday, the day after his 30th birthday.
Runners looking to compete in the Marathon, the 10km or the 3km Fun Run can still register online at www.dubaimarathon.org.