Cushioned beachside tracks, desert runs and more - follow our guide to running in Dubai
Seaside jogging tracks, atmospheric desert running roads and running clubs aplenty - Dubai loves a good run. And there are plenty of locations to choose from as well - from the futuristic cityscape of the Dubai Marina to the leafy green of Safa Park to the seaside track running parallel to Jumeirah Beach Road.
Running season in Dubai is traditionally October to April, though locals run year round in the early mornings. Whatever the time of year, take plenty of water and download one of the many helpful running apps, such as MapMyRun or Nike+ Running, to your phone or watch so you can track your progress in detail.
The iconic green spongy track on Jumeirah Beach Road is one of the fitness marvels of Dubai. Easy on the legs, the track stretches over 14km, starting at the Burj Al Arab, down past Kite Beach and over the new Dubai Water Canal. There is helpful signage every 100 metres so you know how far you’ve travelled and how far to go. Popular with families and runners of all descriptions – serious to part-timers – it also takes in some of Dubai’s most picturesque spots. Take a towel for a refreshing post-run swim.
One of the more unusual running spots in Dubai is out along the Palm Jumeirah, the manmade residential, hotel and entertainment complex in the shape of a palm that stretches over 5km out into the Arabian Gulf. There are two routes to choose from. The 4km shoreline, up and down the “trunk” is more leisurely, while the 11km “crescent” run along the tip of the Palm is a little more challenging, but has even more spectacular scenery.
The 4.5km track at the Dubai Marina is scenery central, especially in the winter months. On one side are modern, gleaming skyscrapers, and on the other the waters of the Marina, dotted with luxury cruisers and traditional craft. There is no spongy track here so wear good rubber-soled runners.
There are many surprisingly leafy spots in Dubai, perfect for a morning, daytime or evening run. The pick of these is Safa Park, conveniently located in mid-town, halfway between the Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah Beach. It’s a short 3.5km but the earth-red track is nice and spongy and there are numerous workout stations along the way. Safa Park is alongside the newly-opened Dubai Water Canal, so that is now part of the track and the route is accessible 24-hours a day, appropriate for a city that never sleeps.
At the other end of town, you can find the delightfully green Dubai Creek park which has a stunning view of the Dubai skyline and takes you through more of the older parts of Dubai, often more revealing than the impressive modern structures. You can also check out Mushrif Park, which has some good challenging hills, the easily accessible Zabeel Park or, if you are near Mall of the Emirates, try the well-equipped Al Barsha Pond Park.
If you don’t want to run alone, join any of the fun and friendly running groups in Dubai. The Desert Road Runners, Dubai’s oldest running club (founded in 1989), meets six nights a week (not Wednesday) in various locations around town as they prepare for various events throughout the region. The Dubai Creek Striders (dubaicreekstriders.org) are the largest running group in Dubai and meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at Al Barsha Pond Park or the World Trade Centre. Benefits are the specially chosen scenic routes and groups to suit every pace. If your focus is endurance running, try ABRaS Athletics Club (abrasac.org), meeting Monday and Wednesday nights, but expect to be tested! This club has many of the UAE’s top distance runners. Other clubs to check out are the Reebok and Nike Run Clubs.
There are a number of running events on Dubai’s calendar, from 10km fun runs to marathons, such as the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon, which takes in the beautiful locale of the Dubai Creek, complete with the traditional Arabian architecture of Al Shindagha and Al Ghubaiba.
Want something more challenging? Then get ready for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 20, 2017. Ranked second in the world, behind London, there will be a high-class field of the world’s elite marathon runners to be tested against. If you’re more of a fun runner, then the perfect event is the Nike+ Run Club Dubai 10K, which sees thousands of enthusiasts take over the prestigious downtown area plus a fun after-run party. For something completely out of the ordinary take part in try the Big Bubble Run on March 10, 2017, one of the world’s top foam fun runs, now in its second year.
Looking for more outdoor activities? Try our guide to cycling in the city.