A sea of runners laced up their sneakers and hit the pavement at Aspire Park on Saturday morning as fitness enthusiasts, green proponents and families from across the city came together to take part in the record-breaking edition of the Al Dana Green Run organized by Doha Bank. This year, over 5,000 runners took part in the run while thousands more turned up to support the event and the cause, crowning it the most successful edition to date.
“Over the years, the Al Dana Green Run has seen a steady spike in the number of participants and it is encouraging to see Doha residents come together in large numbers to share in our commitment to the environment and towards healthy living,” said Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank.
“Qatar’s focus on environmental conservation and eco-friendly development – which constitutes one of the four pillars of National Vision 2030 – has helped to instil renewed environmental consciousness among its people. Meanwhile, the rapid emergence of the country as a global sports destination has led to greater public awareness about fitness and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. The Al Dana Green Run combines these two national priorities – which align with Doha Bank’s own CSR goals – to provide a platform for residents across all age groups to contribute to a better tomorrow while having fun doing it,” he added.
The 11th edition of the much-awaited community run saw participants joining in the race to compete in 10 individual categories that were spread across different age groups and skill levels: from professional runners and participants with special needs to individuals below 18 years of age and heavy weights, among other race categories. While many of the participants were first-timers and looked eager to try out their agility on the track, some of the runners have been regulars at the Al Dana Green Run every year and had put in weeks of practice before the big day. The “Male – 18-35” category attracted the highest number of participants with over 1,500 runners while 983 runners participated in the “Male – Over 35” category and young males and females below the age of 18 comprised a group of 774 participants.
Among the many who joined the event this year were 880 families including Doha Akkawi and her three children. Doha commented, “We are thrilled to be here and enjoying this fabulous day with the members of the local community to promote a green and healthy lifestyle for everyone and above all our kids.”
The event also saw the participation of around 50 special needs runners representing various local special needs associations.
“Our participation in the Al Dana Green Run has created an extremely positive impact on our special needs members. Opportunities like these give them the platform to connect with the society and help strengthen their sense of community belonging. We have participated in the race before so our runners were already familiar with the rules and the track and this year we had 15 girls and 20 boys participate in the short distance category,” said Jassem Mohammed, Assistant PR Officer, Qatar Society For Rehabilitation of Special Needs.
Al Dana Green Run 2016 saw a total of QAR 150,000 distributed in prize money, with first-place winners in each of the 10 categories taking home QAR 5,000 and second-place winners pocketing QAR 4,000 each. Winners of the third, fourth and fifth positions received QAR 3,000, QAR 2,000 and QAR 1,000 each, respectively.
The Al Dana Green Run is organized annually by Doha Bank to spread awareness among the people about the fragile ecosystem that they live in and to encourage them to adopt sustainable practices to maintain a better ecological balance.
The 11th edition of the annual run kicked off at 3pm and covered a 3-km circuit around Khalifa Stadium. Volunteers waited at key points as did the cheering crowds who egged the participants on to the finish line.
For those who came to cheer on their friends and family members participating in the race, the near-perfect weather and the entertainment at the venue – which included live DJ set, live performances by the choir of the Philippine International School and a host of other fun activities such as face painting, football and basketball games for children.
Another family-friendly attraction that emerged as a huge hit among participants of all ages, was the lively photo booth area, which allowed the runners and public to share their creative pictures on Instagram using the #DanaGreenRun – offering them the opportunity to take home a Polaroid as a fun-filled memory of their participation in the event.
Complimentary refreshments were provided for the runners and the crowd, courtesy of The Torch Doha along with Doha Bank’s treats, such as popcorn and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
The adrenaline rush rose further among the crowds as the raffle draw prizes were announced and the lucky winners bagged exciting cash prizes and other rewards.
And if that wasn’t enough, another exciting bonanza awaited the crowds in the form of free Apple iWatches that were offered by Doha Bank to the first 50 customers opening a new account with salary transfer during the event.
The 11th edition of the Green Run also served as the venue for Doha Bank’s announcement of the winners of its December 2015 Mega Draw for the Al Dana Savings Scheme, Qatar’s leading savings program from which the annual community run takes its name. Mr. S. M. B. A. Sheikh was named the latest millionaire during the event owing to this renowned Doha Bank Savings Scheme. Other draws included QAR 100,000, QAR 50,000, QAR 25,000 respectively within a pool of 52 winners for the final monthly draw of 2015, taking the overall tally for the year to a whopping 11 million.
During the event, the millionaires of the last quarter Al Dana Draws Mr. M.M. Chowdhury and Mr. H. V. S. Vembu attended to collect their checks in a massive round of applause by the massive crowd of audiences. Also the event hosted the winners of multiple other cash prizes from previous draws. The winners shared their excitements and sentiments and invited people to save with Doha Bank with AL DANA account.
Al Dana Green Run 2016, organized to propagate the message of environmental awareness and healthy living, was attended by the General Directorate of Public Security, the Traffic and Patrol Department, the Qatar Olympic Committee, officials and staff from the Qatar Red Crescent and the Aspire Academy— co-hosts of the annual community event, which turned out to be a great success, with the runners already looking forward to the next edition, “Short and fast races like this one represent the perfect change for endurance runners like myself. I cannot wait to improve my 8’19 timing at the Al Dana Green Run 2017,” said Ambroise Aufrere, a French endurance runner.
Photos by: Mega Gonzales Cervantes
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