Even the sweltering June heat was unable to frustrate the enthusiasm of some elite runners who participated in the FuelCell Fastest Mile Challenge at Dubai International Academy on Tuesday.
Born out of a longstanding partnership between New Balance and Ultimate Athletics, the challenge saw both male and female athletes compete for the crown of UAE’s best over a one-mile distance.
For any athlete involved in the sport of running, a good pair of shoes is the most important equipment. Not only does the right shoe provide optimal comfort for a runner, but it can also give the extra speed boost to gain a competitive edge. It is this combination that New Balance have aimed to perfect with their FuelCell series of running shoes, the latest offering of which is the RC Elite v2.
The lightweight running shoes feature the high rebound FuelCell midsole compound, while being paired with a full-length carbon fibre plate to facilitate energy return and propulsion.
The runners in Tuesday’s Fastest Mile Challenge were given the opportunity to experience the RC Elite, and the reviews post the event were glowingly positive.
“The New Balance RC Elite honestly made a huge difference,” said young Isobel Charlier, who finished first in the female division.
“Normally when I run, my feet start to hurt and cramp after a short distance. I didn’t feel any such pain in these new shoes which was a refreshing change.
“It obviously feels great to finish first. It was an excellent competition overall and I loved the opportunity to compete with the best runners from the region.”
Isobel is one of several young talents who are being developed under the tutelage of experienced coaches of the New Balance Run Club (NBRC). The weekly running club provides free coaching to athletes of all ages and abilities in coordination with Ultimate Athletics.
Convening every Tuesday evening at the Dubai International Academy track in Al Barsha, NBRC conducts drills to improve every athlete’s performance while also providing advice on running techniques.
Another athlete who is benefiting from the run club is Oliver Demain, who finished a strong third in the men’s division.
“It was pretty satisfying to finish on the podium after what was a great race. The new shoes were amazing and I can already feel the difference in terms of performance,” the youngster said after the Fastest Mile Challenge.
“Previously, I used to have an issue where my pace would drop off drastically towards the end. While I did tail off a bit towards the end today, I think my speed didn’t drop as much as it would in the past.”
While young talent impressed during the evening, no one embodied NBRC’s goal of empowering runners of all ages and abilities than Lee Garett.
The 40-year-old was the emphatic winner of the Men’s race on Tuesday and powered ahead of the field after stitching together an impressive finish.
“I had a plantar fasciitis injury over a year and a half ago. Ever since then, I have put myself back together and have been training consistently for a year and a half,” he said after his victory.
“I have developed a good routine with work and training and I 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 does not get injured, I will keep going.”
Garett too, had only good things to say about the RC Elite shoes and the competition.
“It was a great event,” he stated.
“They have tried to bring together some of the best runners to have a mile race-off, there was also the added incentive of the new shoes which were amazing.
“To be able to participate in a fast race in the UAE, especially towards the end of June in this weather is just such a great opportunity. New Balance has done a really good job.”
The reviews from the athletes was music to the ears of Sebastian Van Pletzen, the marketing manager of New Balance’s MENA region.
“This was the perfect event to authenticate the FuelCell RC Elite, which is an amazing and innovative running shoe,” he said.
“The feedback we have received from the athletes is that it is unrivalled in terms of technology, comfort and delivering speed.
“I am hearing that several of the athletes today have beaten their personal best with these running shoes.
“The FuelCell Fast Mile challenge was born around a concept to deliver what the FuelCell RC Elite is about. If you talk about FuelCell and the RC Elite, it delivers speed. It is the language of speed.
“We wanted to deliver that through this event which is bringing the fastest runners in the UAE together to compete for this prestigious award. From what I understand, the numbers delivered here today are some of the best numbers we have seen in this region for a while.”
The numbers delivered at the event were indeed commendable, with Lee Garett taking home the men’s gold with a timing of under four-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, Isobel clocked five minutes and nineteen seconds on the way to the top position in the female division. The top-three finishers in each category were awarded medals for their fabulous efforts on the track.
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