He braved the heat and fought the exhaustion – as he dedicated the ultramarathon to a cause that was close to his heart.
While most people would baulk at the thought of walking, let alone running, in the scorching heat, a Dubai resident completed an epic 200km run in the desert within 42 hours.
Akbar Naqwi, founder of a fintech company in Dubai, ran, jogged and walked in Dubai’s Al Qudra desert in what he called the “ultimate test of human endurance”. He braved the heat and fought the exhaustion – as he dedicated the ultramarathon to a cause that was close to his heart.
“I ran for an NGO that my wife, Danielle Wilson Naqvi, and I started in Pakistan seven years ago after we lost our adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to a metabolic disease,” Akbar said.
“We adopted Zahra when she was barely a few days old and was abandoned by her mother, who was from one of the poorest regions of Northern Pakistan. We later learnt that Zahra’s disorder went undiagnosed as she was not screened at birth and therefore it was too late by the time we found out about the disease. She died when she was only three months old.”
That heartbreaking moment pushed the couple to raise awarness about the importance of newborn screenings through their charity called ZB Foundation, he told Khaleej Times.
An athlete and ultramarathon runner, the 44-year-old said he started his journey as a runner two years ago after being motivated by gym owner, coach and international athlete Marcus Smith.
Dividing his race into parts, Akbar began the run on Friday morning at 6am at the Al Qudra cycling track and ran around 100km completing a loop of the 50km cycling track.
“I divided my race into parts and ran for 3km-5km at a stretch, then took a few minutes water break, ate some snack and began again. This helped me complete the first 100km on Friday,” he said.
“The second day I ran shorter distances repeatedly near a resting area on the Al Qudra cycling track. I would run back to the shade after a few kilomtres due to the extreme heat. My team would pour water on me to keep me hydrated and cool.”
Akbar slept for two hours on Friday night from 12am to 2am and then continued with his run, taking short breaks along the way.
Thanking his coach and his runners community for their support, Akbar said: “Apart from my coach Marcus, the team from his gym InnerFight as well as a number of runners from my running club joined me and boosted my moral by running with me for a few kilometres at different times of the day.”
Akbar completed the 200km at around 1.30am on Saturday. His coach and teammates, along with his wife and three children, all celebrated with him.
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