Many talented athletes across the UAE are dusting off their spikes as the sixth edition of the Ultimate Athletics Racenight League Powered by New Balance is set to get underway on Friday, November 14.
The league – which runs from November to May – consists of five meets throughout the season and athletes can enter up to four disciplines each race night.
Points are accumulated based on each athlete’s finishing position and prizes are awarded to the top three in each age group at the end of the campaign.
Over 300 junior and 200 senior athletes are expected to compete this season, with overseas clubs like Spark Performance in Kuwait, Doha Athletics Club and Saudi Arabia also set participate to make it a truly regional Open Athletics meet.
Of the many events that take place each race night, one of the most popular races is the 60 metres Masters final.
Designed for men above 30 years of age, Rafael Roots is the one to beat again.
The 35-year-old, who has recorded a personal best of 7.30 seconds, has won the last three Ultimate Racenight finals.
Another man set to light up Dubai Sports City with his searing pace is New Balance seeded athlete, Dannish Walker Khan.
The 27-year-old English sprinter has clocked a personal best of 10.49 seconds for the 100m.
Formerly trained by Great Britain legend Linford Christie, Khan was part of a star-studded England relay team of Adam Gemili, Deji Tobais and Danny Talbot that achieved European U23 4x100m success back in 2013.
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Khan hopes to make his Olympic dreams a reality for his adopted country and will use the Ultimate Racenights to help fine tune his training.
“I’ll do a few of the Ultimate Athletics race nights to see where I am at with the training. The organisation down there is amazing. I like how they are getting loads of youngsters involved too. If you can do it from an early age then it’ll be easier,” said Khan.
In the women’s category, Abu Dhabi-based Kimbely Baptiste has emerged as another star to watch.
The 26-year-old, who hails from Crawley in England, dominated the 100m and 200m events last season and went on to clinch back-to-back sprint titles at the UK Inter-Counties and England Athletics Senior Championships in Manchester in July.
“I’ve been running with the guys in Dubai so I can stay competitive and get a push,” said Baptiste, who works as a sports co-coordinator in the UAE capital.
“Every year I’m trying to get my times down, improve on my performance and my technique. I would like to run for my country Guyana one day. I would like to do that in a few years’ time when I feel ready. But, for now, I want to focus on the season ahead.”
One athlete whose sheer class is capturing the attention of athletics fans across the UAE is another on of New Balance’s seeded athletes, Nikita Manian.
The 16-year-old is Ultimate Athletics’ most decorated sprinter, holding all the Racenight records for the 100m and 200m at under-17 level.
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New standards were set last night! Leading the way Hannah and Samir #fastestmile #NBRC Let's see if they will win #ultimateracenightleague Fastest Mile Showdown! Thursday 14th Nov 7.25pm at @dscsportscity #ultimateathleticsuae @newbalancegcc @sport360 @gshock_middleeast @kibsons
Yannick Kraus, meanwhile, is a young pentathlete with a great future ahead of him.
The 12-year-old is no stranger to sporting success, having won the Ultimate Athletics Racenight League on four successive occasions.
As well as the racing itself, there will be a New Balance Fastest Mile Challenge where only the fast can get their hands on the limited edition Fuelcell Speed Kit.
This gargantuan giveaway is new for this Ultimate Athletics Racenight and organisers are expecting runners to get close to the 4min 20sec mark on November 14.
The winning male and female runner will be presented with their prizes on the night by New Balance.
While hosting these events are costly as many people are required to officiate and keep scores of the countless results, the Ultimate 60m and Fastest Mile Challenge are kept relatively free.
Nevertheless, organisers hope they can attract a sponsor for an electronic timing system this season in order to take the events to the next level.
The cost is kept at a low Dh70 and they want to keep it that way in order to encourage as many athletes as possible.
If you want to get involved in running, training is held at various locations around Dubai, as well as Abu Dhabi, throughout the week.
For more information, visit: http://ultimateathleticsuae.com/about-us/
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