Any runners thinking about coming to Dubai wonder whether there is any running available in such a hot climate. The truth is the scene is extremely active.
In Dubai, you can run with a group every day of the week and at any level. You can run on roads, tracks, beaches, and trails. With its strong cycling and triathlon scene, there are kilometers of dedicated rubberized and tarmac tracks for cycling and running. There are websites, Facebook pages, and WhatsApp groups to help you find likeminded runners. It is fair to say that Dubai's runners are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding options for group runs of any length.
Here is a starting point to help you explore the options for joining a club.
The Big Four
There are four main running groups. These split broadly into two groups, one whose running sessions tend to be in the north of Dubai around the Creek and old town, and the other whose sessions are mostly run around the south of Dubai along the beach, Al Barsha and the Meadows. All the groups cater to runners of varying abilities with many runners switching between clubs to suit their training needs or location. Each group brings a different event or events to the calendar and the whole community flourishes under the healthy balance of offers and characteristics.
The general pattern of training schedules cover a speed session, interval training and long runs on the weekend. There is a session every day of the week bar Thursday between the groups and a quick post on Facebook or WhatsApp will get you company on a Thursday too.
There are also many other smaller groups for specific disciplines from trail to tempo to track, and of course the related worlds of triathlon, cycling, and swimming for cross-training purposes.
Desert Road Runners
Arguably the largest group in Dubai, the club caters to any age and ability with a focus on road running. DRR provides sessions and programs for marathon running in particular and boasts some Dubai's fastest age group marathoners. DRR is particularly family friendly and often sees entire families turn up to race at its events.
DRR hosts a weekly Predictor race behind Sunset Mall along the rubber track. Like a Park Run in the UK, it is open to anyone on the night with 5 km and a 2.5 km race distances well suited to families and kids. They also host two competitive 5 km races and a 10 km at the Dubai Autodrome each year. They are always well attended by the local club runners and provide a great competition.
DRR run a membership scheme to fund the management.
Dubai Creek Striders
With training sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday Creek Striders provide running options in the mid-town areas near World Trade Center. DCS is known for its friendly and well-attended weekend long runs that often meander around the cities urban center.
Along with a very sociable group the club provides one of the most popular events in the season. The Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon provides a race through the banks of the Dubai Creek where the club was born. As well as being a tough but scenic course the event boasts a fabulous after race breakfast and a chance to meet the whole running community.
Training sessions and event details are on the club site.
The club does offer a membership scheme.
Again catering to all runners, the club is based in and around Mirdif with three training sessions a week focused mainly on the road running calendar and just the sheer pleasure of running in good company. If you run near Mushrif Park, which boasts one of Dubai's few hilly running loops, the sociable Mirdif Milers are a very convenient option.
Mirdif Milers have traditionally hosted a popular 10 mile race in November although this race has currently suspended.
There is no membership program, but the Milers do sell vests for those who want to show their allegiance.
Super Sports AbraS
The second club based in the south of Dubai has a similar focus to DRR with perhaps a bias toward faster road races and track.
The ABRaS host two race series every year which are extremely well run and provide a highly competitive but fun atmosphere. These are the only events that focus as much on team rankings as individuals. In the winter there is a 10 km series of three races (and a junior 3 km race), and in the summer a month of intra-club track events ranging from 5 km down to the season closing 4x400m relay.
All details of training nights can be found on their website.
ABRaS run a membership program to cover costs associated with training sessions and events.