One upshot of training like a loon over four weeks for the 10K road race that takes place as part of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in January each year was the enthusiasm instilled in the kids to get out there and join me on the running track, iPads forgotten.
The first time I took six-year-old Leo and four-year-old Fox with me I had no idea how far or how fast kids could run. I soon learnt. Despite trying to get them to jog and maintain a steady pace for a kilometre or so, their natural tendency is to sprint like mad for around 100m and then crash, sit down and complain that their legs are tired. No s***, Sherlock.
On the few occasions I could get Leo to pace herself, she managed 800m-1K without stopping, so I felt okay entering her for the 4K family fun run that also takes place during the marathon. She’d caught wind of the fact that it would involve a medal and was determined to give it a go. We did our practice runs along the Jumeriah Running Track around sunset, parking at Nessnass Beach and running down to the Jumeirah Fish Market , which is about a kilometre in the direction of Kite Beach.
It became a treat for kids (the fishermen, not so much) to pop in and scare themselves silly over the freshly caught octopuses, lobster and all manner of sea life from the Arabian Gulf. I am not sure that them running around yelling “disgusting” at the mere sight of a tentacle did much for trade, but the guys selling the fish were always delightful and happy to tell the kids the names of each fish and let them hold even the slipperiest specimen.
On race day Leo proudly donned her official personalised Adidas tee and set off with her Aunty Catherine who, at seven months pregnant, had volunteered to run/jog/walk/babysit. I am pretty sure they held hands the whole way round, Leo’s yet-to-be-born baby cousin bouncing around in his mummy’s tummy. When they crossed the finish line, cheered on by her brothers, uncle and daddy, I definitely shed a few tears. Running like a girl is the best.