Even the sweltering June heat wasn’t able to dampen the enthusiasm of some of the elite runners who took part in the FuelCell Fastest Mile Challenge at Dubai International Academy on Tuesday.
Born as the result of a long-standing partnership between New Balance and Ultimate Athletics, the challenge saw both male and female athletes vie for the crown of the UAE’s best over a mile.
For any athlete who engages in running, a good pair of shoes is the most important equipment. The right shoe not only provides optimum comfort for the runner, but can also increase the extra speed to gain a competitive advantage. That’s the combination New Balance aims to perfect with the FuelCell series of running shoes, the latest being the RC Elite v2.
The lightweight running shoes feature a high-rebound FuelCell compound, while they’re paired with a full-length carbon fiber plate to facilitate energy return and propulsion.
Contestants in Tuesday’s Fastest Mile Challenge were given the chance to try out the RC Elite, and the reviews that followed the event were overwhelmingly positive.
“The New Balance RC Elite has frankly made a huge difference,” said young Isobel Charlier, who took first place in the female division.
“Usually when I run, my feet start to ache and cramp after a short distance. I didn’t feel any pain in these new shoes which was a refreshing change.
“Obviously it feels great to be number one. It was an excellent competition overall and I loved the opportunity to compete with the best runners from the region.”
Isobel is one of the many young talents being developed under the tutelage of the experienced coaches of the New Balance Run Club (NBRC). The weekly running club provides free training for athletes of all ages and abilities in coordination with Ultimate Athletics.
Held every Tuesday evening at the Dubai International Academy track in Al Barsha, the NBRC conducts training to improve each athlete’s performance with advice on running techniques.
Another athlete benefiting from the running club is Oliver Demin, who placed solid third in the men’s class.
“It was really fun to finish on the podium after what was a great race. The new shoes were great and I can really feel the difference in terms of performance,” the young man said after the Fastest Mile challenge.
“Previously, I had a problem where my pace drops quite a bit towards the end. While it lags a bit towards the end of the day, I think my pace hasn’t dropped as much as it used to be.”
While young talent was impressed during the evening, no one personified the NBRC’s goal of empowering runners of all ages and abilities than Lee Garett.
The 40-year-old was the definitive winner of the men’s race on Tuesday and was ahead on the field having together achieved an impressive finish.
“I had a plantar fasciitis injury over a year and a half ago. Since then, I have recovered and trained constantly for a year and a half,” he said after his victory.
“I have developed a good routine with work and training and am able to manage my body, which is great for a 40-year-old. Age is just a number. I just want to compete with the best. As long as my body doesn’t hurt, I will continue.”
Garrett also had nothing but good things to say about the RC Elite boots and the competition.
“It was an amazing event,” he said.
“They tried to bring together some of the best mile racers, and there was also the added incentive of the new shoes which were amazing.
“Being able to do a sprint in the UAE, especially towards the end of June in this weather, is just a great opportunity. New Balance has done a really good job.”
The athletes’ opinions were music to the ears of Sebastian van Blitzen, New Balance MENA Marketing Director.
“This was the perfect event to endorse the FuelCell RC Elite, an amazing and innovative running shoe,” he said.
“The feedback we have received from the athletes is that it is unmatched in terms of technology, comfort and delivery speed.
“I hear many athletes today beat their best with these running shoes.
“The FuelCell Fast Mile Challenge was born around a concept to deliver what the FuelCell RC Elite is all about. If you’re talking about the FuelCell and the RC Elite, they give you speed. It’s the language of speed.
We wanted to deliver that with this event that brings the UAE’s fastest runners together to compete for this prestigious award. From what I understand, the numbers delivered here today are some of the best we’ve seen in this region for a while.”
The numbers delivered at the event were already commendable, as Lee Jarrett came home with the men’s gold with a timing of less than four and a half minutes. Meanwhile, Isobel clocked five minutes and nineteen seconds on her way to first place in the female division. The top three winners in each category received medals for their outstanding efforts on the track.
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