Abu Dhabi: These Filipino expats living in Abu Dhabi are showing their love for the UAE, its frontliners, ahead of the country’s 49th year National Day celebrations.
The expats ran 49 kilometres on Friday, November 28, in Abu Dhabi to show their love and gratitude for the UAE, its citizens and expatriates who make up country.
Wilter Mendez, 40 — working in the sales department of an insurance company — said the group of runners, a mix of fitness enthusiasts, front liners who risked their lives serving the UAE amid the pandemic were part of the 49km planned run, to mark the 49 years of the country’s formation.
“The plan initially was that three of my friends and I would do the run. No sooner I messaged about the run to a couple of my runner friends, we had more volunteers. Not just that, other volunteers decided to bike and follow us to ensure we were on track with our running mission. They were guiding us and ensuring we were all in good health. Two cars provided us with nourishment and water so we could stay hydrated.”
The bikers eventually concluded 50km — thereby achieving two goals — one for UAE National Day and another that officially certified them as ultra-runners. .
The 15 runners started from Leaf Tower in Reem Island at 3am and concluded their run at 9am. They made some stops in between — at the big flag point in Corniche, then Marina Mall, Emirates Palace, the Al Bateen area, Al Horsan and finally returning to the Leaf Tower where they started the run. “We took a break every seven to eight kilometres for hydration and nutrition.”
Running for a message
“The message we wanted to drive home was that in tough times, there are blessings. We can celebrate life by undertaking a hobby, a passion to keep our spirits alive. The run was also for our beloved front-liners who worked hard to save lives during the pandemic. We feel fortunate to live in the UAE and this was our way of showing it,” said Mendez, a distance runner by passion who runs four times a week with his friends.
Filipina Eunice Jean Orlain, 32, working as administrator for private gas company said: “My reason for running, besides a fact that we were doing it ahead of UAE National Day was also to inspire people to get active during the pandemic. As you know, these are tough times. Most people are working from home and not leading an active physical life. They have gained weight and are afraid to venture out. They are not focusing on taking care of their health and I did the run in the hope to inspire them,” said Orlain, who works as an administrator for an oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi.
Talking about her personal fitness journey, Orlain said three years ago, she started making efforts to get fit. “I started learning swimming. Then my passion went into running and I made a lot of friends who introduced me to triathlon. They advised me to try swimming and cycling too.”
“From then up to today I am active in sports,” said Orlain who recently finished her first Ironman Dubai 70.3 last February 7, 2020. “Last Friday my friends and I organised the 49km ultra run to also encourage people to stay healthy and fit amid a pandemic. It is good for their mental and physical well-being.”
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Jude Delmonte, 43, who work as a medical technologist said she ran for all her fellow Filipino expatriates who lost their jobs in the pandemic. “The timing of it could not have been better. We took the opportunity of the UAE National Day to drive home this message. We want to support all those who lost their jobs in the pandemic. In fact we encouraged some of them to run with us so we were able to spread some cheer.”