Abdulla Al Shehhi becomes first Emirati runner to complete Abbott World Marathon Majors - GulfToday

Abdulla Al Shehhi becomes first Emirati runner to complete Abbott World Marathon Majors

Abdulla Sulaiman Al Shehhi displays his Abbott World Marathon Majors medals.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Ultra runner Abdulla Sulaiman Al Shehhi achieved a historic feat by completing the Abbott World Marathon Majors, embodying the spirit of determination, dedication and challenge of the people of the Emirates.

The Great World Marathons Championship is a competition for long-distance runners, the results of which are calculated based on the points collected in the six most important marathons in the world, which Includes the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York Marathons.

Abdullah Al Shehhi recently concluded his participation in the Boston Marathon, completing a journey that spanned eight years during which he overcame a wide range of challenges and obstacles to win the Six Star Medal, which is won by whoever crosses the finish line in the six marathons included in the World Marathon Majors Championship.

He said: “This journey represents an embodiment of ambition, determination, and willpower in facing challenges. It required physical effort and psychological fortitude that would not have been possible without the support of my family and society during its stages. The family’s support and encouragement for me was a beacon by which I was guided during the challenges and difficulties and a motivation that provides me with the strength and determination to continue the journey.”

Since 2015, he’s racked up a staggering 34 marathons and half-marathons. This impressive tally includes 16 gruelling full marathons (each a demanding 42.195 kilometres) and a further 18 half-marathons (testing competitors over 21.1 kilometres).

Officially, these races alone translate to a remarkable 1,055 kilometers conquered.

This impressive accomplishment doesn’t even account for the additional distances covered during his rigorous daily training sessions.

“I participated in six World Major Marathon races, including Chicago in 2018 and 2019, New York in 2018 and 2022, Berlin in 2017 and 2023, London in 2021, Tokyo in 2023, and Boston in 2024.

Beyond the global stage, Abdulla is a familiar face in local races. He’s graced the Zayed Charity Run, tackled the Dubai Marathon twice, and participated in four ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathons.

His competitive spirit has also led him to races in Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and even Oman.

At 37, Emirati shows no signs of slowing down. His sights are now set on an even more ambitious goal: competing in seven marathons across all seven continents.

This global odyssey will see him carrying the UAE flag high, promoting the nation’s vision and sports-oriented culture on the world stage.

Abdulla’s path to running began as a way to overcome adversity. Once burdened by his weight and negativity, tipping the scales at 100 kilograms, he found solace in running after taking some good advice.

Remarkably, his very first training session saw him conquer a distance of 14 kilometers, and he was instantly hooked by the surge of positive energy it brought. ‘Fueled by this newfound motivation,’ he recalled, “I kept running, witnessing my weight gradually melt away to 68 kilogrammes.”

This dedication culminated in his participation in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, marking the beginning of a remarkable transformation.

Abdullah emphasized the significance of local races in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi as pivotal in his preparation for the global stage. “These races not only shaped me but also served as vital stepping stones for larger, international competitions,” he revealed.

What began as a personal quest for health blossomed into a national mission.

His participation in races expanded to encompass a broader community focus, coupled with a strong determination to advocate for sports as an indispensable aspect of life.

Despite the heartbreak of missing the 2019 Tokyo Marathon due to a last-minute injury, Abdulla still considers it his favourite.

“The organization and course are simply amazing,” he shared, reflecting on the complexities and highlights of his marathons.”

Abdulla’s dedication transcends his own achievements.

Focused on the future of Emirati athletics, he dreams of seeing Emirati athletes light up global podiums, even the Olympics. To achieve this, he sees sustainable development as key.

He attributed his considerable international participation to his dedication to sports sustainability, a principle he intends to advance through the establishment of a specialized academy for marathon running.

His goal is to unearth and foster local talents, thereby contributing to the growth of the sport within the UAE.

Beyond his running prowess, Abdulla wears many hats. Hailing from Ras Al Khaimah, he a petroleum engineering degree from Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and did MBA in General Management Canadian University Dubai.

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