From runs to swims to obstacle courses…

Need extra motivation to get fit in 2023? Set yourself a goal and sign up for one of the UAE’s big sporting events. Here’s our pick of the top triathlons, marathons and swim meets that will push you to your limits this season.


Dubai: Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon – dubbed ‘the world’s most beautiful half marathon’ by its founders – shows a different side to the city’s shiny metropolis. The 21.1km Creek waterfront route takes runners up Garhoud and Maktoum bridges, past the dhow wharfage along the Deira side of the Creek before the final stretch leads onto the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, and straight into QD’s for a well-earned discounted breakfast. This year, there’s a newly added 10km route, too. Entry costs Dhs309 for the half marathon and Dhs184 for the 10km.


Dubai: M1 Run 2023

For something a little different to the typical road races in the UAE, the M1 Run offers a unique race – a vertical challenge in Media One Hotel, where participants must run from the valet parking floor and up the steep car park ramps, before making a beeline for the stairway and racing all the way up 35 floors. It’s a knee-knocking, quads-quivering exercise in endurance, but there are lots of prizes up for grabs. The race record is just over six minutes. Reckon you could smash that? Entry costs Dhs131 and the registrations opens at 8am.

Dubai: Dubai Marathon 2023

After a two-year hiatus, the Dubai Marathon returns with a whopping 30,000 runners set to pound the pavements on Sunday, February 12. The 42km marathon is one of the UAE’s most important races on the sporting calendar, and runs the length of Beach Road and back, starting and finishing on Umm Sequim Road opposite Madinat Jumeirah. It’s long and arduous, but the flat route makes it one of the fastest in the world, where elite runners look to break records. You can also sign up for the 10km and 4km races, which start at 7am and 10am respectively. Entry costs Dhs550 (42km), Dhs312 (10km) and Dhs184 (4km).

Ras Al Khaimah: Rak Half Marathon 2023

Arguably the most popular half marathon in the UAE, RAK returns for its 16th edition where runners take to the streets of Marjan Island, passing major hotels as they head along Sheikh Mohammed bin Salem Road, and circle through Al-Amwaj avenue, before heading back to the starting point for the finish line. Run the 21.1km race solo or in a relay of two or sign up for the shorter 10km or 5km routes. Entry to the half marathon costs Dhs295, but you can pay for extras, including entry to the Friday pasta party the night before, and the celebratory post-race brunch. VIP hotel packages are also available.

Abu Dhabi: TriYas

Easily the region’s most enjoyable triathlon, Abu Dhabi’s big tri features a swim through Yas Marina, a cycle of the track at Yas Marina Circuit and a run around Yas Marina. The Sprint category features a 750m swim, a 22km cycle and a 5.5km run, while the Olympics category features a 1,500m swim, 38km ride and 10km run.


Sharjah: Gladiators OCR

Obstacle course racing (OCR) has boomed in recent years and every event will lay claim to being the biggest, the baddest and the best. New kid on the block Gladiators OCR in Sharjah’s gnarly XQuarry Adventure Park features 32 challenges that test strength, endurance and agility, including challenges that were built to test the toughest 4WD vehicles that frequent the park. Throughout the 6km course ‘gladiators’ must navigate a 6km gauntlet of obstacles over rocky terrain and challenging climbs. Entry costs Dhs195.

Dubai: La Mer Open Water Swim

Make a splash in Jumeirah for the La Mer Open Water Swim. Take your pick of 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,600m swims, or, if you’re feeling particularly sporty, swim as many distances as you fancy. Your entry fee buys you a place in each race, plus a swim cap, medal and refreshments. Entry costs Dhs175 for adults and Dhs125 for under 18s. For the ultimate swim endurance test, make like Dory and enter the 3.2km long distance swim, taking place on the same day.


Ras Al Khaimah: Urban-Ultra Wadi Racer

Traversing pavements in most towns and cities isn’t always inspiring stuff, so why not sign up for an off-road event instead? The Urban-Ultra Wadi Racer is a trail running adventure in Ras Al Khaimah that starts in the dark. Strap on your headlamp and race through single track trails and rocky wadi beds. The course is marked with light reflective material and there are three lengths to choose from – 10km, 20km or 30km. Races begin at 5am and entry costs Dhs310.

Looking for a little support? Join a club…

If you’re bored of plugging in your headphones and plodding off on your own, why not meet runners who are going at your pace? The newly formed EXPO 2020 Dubai Running Club meet at the Expo site every Sunday and Tuesday evening (7pm to 9pm) and Monday and Wednesday mornings (6am to 8am). Sessions feature Olympic-style warm-ups, stretching and mobility and running drills to improve performance. Best of all, sessions are free.