With an excellent range of well-maintained running tracks against a collection of beautiful backdrops, Dubai is a runner’s paradise. From hyper-modern cityscapes to idyllic parks and never-ending stretches of beach, it’s the perfect place to get yourself active.
Dubai hosts several largescale events for different abilities throughout the year, and there are also plenty of smaller ones for runners looking for a lighter challenge. In our guide below, we cover off everything you need to know about running in Dubai, whatever your ability.
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The Dubai running season
With year-round sunshine and iconic blue skies, it’s unlikely that bad weather will keep you from pounding the pavement. But let’s not forget that Dubai is also a desert city with temperatures reaching above 40°C in the summer months and that it can also get very humid.
The best months for running in Dubai are generally given as October to April when it’s slightly cooler out, but you might choose to run in the early mornings or evenings outside of these months if you want to keep up your momentum. Don’t worry if the summer heat is too much for your run – there are plenty of other ways to stay active in Dubai (check out our Dubai page for ideas).
Dubai’s climate means the right kit is essential to staying comfortable and looking after yourself while you run. The sun can be very intense, especially near the beach, so invest in a good pair of snug-fitting UV protected sunglasses, and make sure you always wear (and reapply) a sweat-resistant sunblock. If your skin is particularly fair or sensitive, it may even be worth wearing a long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms, especially if you’re running out of the shade.
The terrain in Dubai varies and alongside some nice spongey tracks, there are also some harder-surfaces to contend with (especially along the Marina) – so make sure your footwear is up to the job. Waterproof running shoes can help to keep out dust and sand, but you will also need to prevent your feet from getting too sweaty, as this can cause blisters. Special runner’s toe socks can help to prevent this – you can find these here.
Please remember that although Dubai is a very liberal city some areas are still fairly conservative, so it’s respectful to cover your shoulders and avoid very short or tight running shorts, especially during religious holidays. Islamic festivals are observed, even by expats and tourists: so be aware that during Ramadan, you won’t be able to eat or drink water during daylight hours, which could make running difficult.
Best running spots
Dubai has some wonderful running locations. The most iconic and well-known of these is probably the Jumeirah Beach Road running track, a 14km spongey track winding from the Burj Al Arab, all the way down to the Dubai Water Canal. It’s well signposted and dotted with resting areas and places to practice yoga and other activities – the perfect way to see some of Dubai’s most beautiful spots.
Many runners also enjoy the bustling 4km path alongside the Dubai Marina for scenic views of luxury cruisers against a backdrop of the cityscape. There’s also a track that runs along the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah (around 4km) as well as a longer (11km) track along the tip of the palm, with impressive views of the Gulf.
For something a little less touristy, Dubai’s parks offer peaceful trails for runners. Dubai Creekside Park has a nice calm atmosphere, with the 4km track reserved for women and children on Wednesdays. There are also spongey tracks at Zabeel Park (2km) and at Safa Park (3.5km) in the middle of town – both accessible 24hrs. Mushrif Park supplies some good hills for runners in need of more of a challenge.
If you’re looking for a running club to keep your momentum going, there are plenty of them dotted around. Dubai’s longest-running club The Desert Road Runners meet six nights a week all over town, and there’s also the Dubai Creek Striders who meet three nights a week at Al Barsha Pond Park or the Dubai World Trade Centre.
There are also more challenging athletics clubs for more advanced runners – try ABRaS Athletics Club if you’re in need of an endurance challenge.
For runners just getting started, Cigna Park Runs organise free, monthly, timed 2.5-5km events across the city. There are no restrictions on who can participate, and everyone is welcome whether they walk, jog or run. Participants just need to register and print off a barcode before joining.
For a first taste of a larger event, beginners can join thousands of other participants on a run through the downtown area for the annual Nike+ Run Club Dubai 10k. For intermediate runners the Dubai Festival City Half Marathon – taking runners on a loop through the beautiful Dubai Festival City – hasfive different race lengths to test all ages and abilities, from a 1km children’s event to a full 21km half marathon for adults. For another taste of a good solid half, there’s also the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon, taking place around the Dubai Creek.
For advanced runners, The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is Dubai’s seminal running event. Taking place in the cooler month of January, this race is ranked 2nd in the world with regular participants and elite runners and para-athletes also taking part. Early registration is essential, so please register your place here.