Covered in sand and splattered with mud, thousands of men, women and children ran, jogged and lurched across the finish line at the Spartan Race, the country’s first obstacle sprint run on Friday 20 February 2015. Strong winds stirred up sand from dunes at the Jebel Ali Racecourse, adding a natural challenge to the 5km course for participants who were already tasked with overcoming 15 obstacles.
Runners were released in waves over 15-minute intervals, with elite athletes sprinting out first followed by the open category. Caked in mud, with sand lashing their faces, more than 5,000 participants hauled themselves up ropes, crawled under, jumped over and squeezed between wooden walls, some of which were even topped with barbed wire. They yelled and whooped as they crossed the finish line, where volunteers handed them medals.