The Zayed Half Marathon and associated shorter races in Abu Dhabi had a few problems last week, on a day in which “more than 20,000 schoolchildren created havoc among the runners.”
The start time for the 6k race was changed but the athletes weren’t informed. Several missed it, others got a late start, and “those who did compete said they struggled to avoid the children and claimed some participants cut short the course.”
“There were no officials to see them off and the thousands of kids made it even worse. They were all over the place and we had to avoid them in every step we took,” said one runner.
Another commented, “I was in COMPLETE shock as runner in this ½ Marathon. Kids on three wheeled bicycles zooming in and around the runners screaming profanity, dodging 1 billion kids holding hands and not allowing runners to pass, dodging vehicles which were allowed back on the road, almost crashing into pedestrians that had no idea a run was happening and then finally zero organization at the finish line. No water, no nothing!”
* “[Runners] had to dodge the traffic and bewildered drivers or switch to running along the pedestrian-unfriendly pavement. My anger rose as I watched the marshal struggle to stop people from crossing the runners’ path and wondered how these people could be so inconsiderate. Many of them could see the runners coming but crossed the road in front of them anyway instead of waiting for a lull.”
* “The organisation of the running event was without doubt dreadful. You had marshals determining when events would start on the day. You had the ‘running of the bulls’ when schoolchildren ran like hoodlums out across the roundabout clambering over fences and knocking over one another. At the 40 minute mark the police left the road and traffic commenced to flow, scaring participants with their reckless attitude. Some participants took short cuts down at the end of the Corniche. There was no medical support on track. I witnessed a lady in deep distress at the 19 kilometre mark with no one to help her from the time of her knee injury that occurred at the 15 kilometre mark.”