We are targeting 20,000 next year, Al Kamali says

Peter Connerton, event director; Jane Chapo from Standard Chartered Bank; Ahmad Al Kamali, President of UAE Athletic Federation, and Jad Chouman from adidas, address the media.

Dubai: Ahmad Al Kamali, General Co-ordinator of the Dubai Marathon and President of the UAE Athletics Federation, is delighted with the growing popularity of the Dubai Marathon, which he first visualised 12 years ago.

Speaking to Gulf News on the eve of the 12th edition of the Dubai Marathon, Al Kamali said: “It’s a great feeling to find that 14,000 runners will be participating in this year’s marathon. When we staged the first marathon, we had just 50 runners and this increase in number reveals the increasing popularity of this event every year.”

Al Kamali was confident that the number of runners would cross the 20,000 mark next year. “This year, another 3,000 runners too wanted to take part but we had to close the entries three days back due to logistical reasons. Everyone should understand that they can miss a chance to run unless registered early,” added Al Kamali, who said he’d accommodate 20,000 runners next year.

“We are targeting for 20,000 participants next year. We will easily cross this mark because now people are very fond of running and jogging.

Moreover, Dubai Marathon is one of the most popular sporting events of this city. Frankly, we never expected such an increase in participation in the last 12 years,” he said.

When asked whether Haile Gebrselassie’s absence had taken away the glitter from the event, Al Kamali said: “Gebrselassie has boosted the image of Dubai Marathon in the last three years. He is a legend and was very good for the event. His absence has not affected the event as one can find from the increase in the number of participation. In fact, this year’s event will give an opportunity for the talented young runners to prove their talent. We have over 35 runners who have run under 2:11 minutes.”

Al Kamali predicted a keen contest in the men’s category.

“The men’s run will be very close. There are about 47 top runners here and they know the first 12 runners can only get the prize money. So it will he hot chase for the top 12 slots,” he said.

“In the 10k race, UAE national team girls Alia Saeed Mohammad and Mariam Mubarak are in very good shape and should do well,” he said.