UAE Athlete Who Once Weighed 100kg Now Aces Marathons Worldwide

Determined to change his life, AlShehhi embarked on a rigorous physical regimen, initially focusing on short-distance runs. His turning point came in 2014 when a billboard advertising a marathon in Ras Al Khaimah caught his eye

Ras Al Khaimah native Abdulla AlShehhi’s transformation from struggling to run on a treadmill to completing over 15 marathons is a testament to his dedication and determination.

The Emirati long-distance runner has carved out an impressive fitness journey that began over a decade ago when he weighed nearly 100kg and struggled with his fitness.


Determined to change his life, AlShehhi embarked on a rigorous physical regimen, initially focusing on short-distance runs. His turning point came in 2014 when a billboard advertising a marathon in Ras Al Khaimah caught his eye.

Inspired, AlShehhi decided to challenge himself and participated in his first marathon in Dubai. AlShehhi’s commitment to a healthier lifestyle has seen him not only participate in marathons across the UAE but also in international races.

His most recent accomplishment was completing the Boston Marathon in April, earning him the prestigious ‘Six Star Finisher Medal’ awarded by the Abbott World Marathon Majors. This medal is given to runners who complete all six major marathons globally.

“Setting goals has kept me going,” AlShehhi shared. “I advise people to set new goals each time to keep them motivated in whatever they are working on.”

Balancing a demanding career as an engineer at Adnoc with his passion for running, AlShehhi’s work schedule involves spending two weeks each month on an island, working 12-hour shifts from 6 am to 6 pm.

Despite these challenges, he remains dedicated to his training, often running early in the morning or after his shift. “The island is small, but I run many laps around it to train,” he said.


One of the hurdles AlShehhi faces is the relatively lower popularity of running in the UAE compared to other sports. Additionally, the scorching summer temperatures present a significant challenge, often forcing him to seek alternatives such as indoor running halls in Abu Dhabi or gym sessions.

However, he prefers running outdoors whenever possible, taking advantage of cooler weather in the early mornings or late evenings.

For AlShehhi, running is more than just a physical activity; it’s a vital stress reliever. “Running helps me release the pressures of life, making me feel calm and focused in both my personal and professional life,” he explained.

He recalled a particularly stressful day when he inadvertently ran 15 kilometers without realizing it, highlighting the therapeutic nature of running for him.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique challenge for AlShehhi, restricting his ability to run outdoors. During the lockdown, he adapted by running back and forth in his hotel room, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to his fitness goals.

Looking ahead, AlShehhi aspires to participate in races on every continent and hopes for a marathon that unites all Gulf countries.

His journey from struggling with weight and fitness to becoming a celebrated marathon runner serves as an inspiring example of what can be achieved with determination and perseverance.

Tariq Saeed

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