Photo of the day: My Gigantic Dubai Palm Tree Run


Every once in a rare while, I plan a route simply because it’ll look cool from space.  And so was the case tonight.  I had an interval run of sorts to knock out, and after I finished up at work I zipped out to get the run done.

I was down here on a very last minute work trip.  As in, only an hour’s notice before I was at the airport catching the last redeye flight of the night.  I’m now at the airport headed back home.  While I had both runs and bikes on my training schedule, I figured I’d at least be able to squeeze in a late night run somewhere in there.  The weather is plenty warm for it, and the location I was staying made it easy.

The Palm Jumeira (where I ran) is a man-made island-thing that was built by reallocating land into the shape of a palm tree.  It’s not the only one in Dubai. There’s another palm tree, along with an island series called ‘The World’ that vaguely looks like the earth…if a two year old did it in his sandbox.  You can see all three below:


The route itself was initially along the beach for a few minutes, and then the beach boulevard ended and I found myself on a sidewalk along a major thoroughfare next to 30-60 story buildings.  Surprisingly, the satellite reception held quite well on most of the four different GPS watches I was using.  Here’s the FR920XT activity on Strava.

From there I turned left out to sea, crossing bridges that felt like mountains.  Especially so mid-interval, to get onto the palm tree.  I had planned to actually run all the way out to Atlantis at the very end of the tree, but that was scuttled when the tunnel I had hoped to take had an impressive array of signs dictating no pedestrian access.  So I was effectively quarantined to the trunk only.


No worries, I just worked my way back and finished up the last of my intervals just after getting back on solid land.  From there I grabbed a taxi the rest of the way back to the hotel – being mostly on time for a work dinner.

And now – just about to board heading back home.  Looking forward to getting back.

Have a great weekend all!


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  1. Bennomac

    From the title I was expecting some fronds in there as well, regardless very impressive effort. But the most impressive aspect is how you keep up your training. You have one of the most demanding work schedules I know of, and you’re still training like the pros.

  2. Luciano

    Great one! Nothing like my 5 km around Marina Walk. 🙂 Good to have you in Dubai. Have fun!

  3. Zanza00

    Turist by running, i like it 🙂

  4. Hans

    Did you do anything special for the elevation issues mentioned on the other post? It looks very ok in this run (or does strava ignore the elevation from the watch ?)


  5. Tiago Ferrão

    You ARE the LORD of the breadcrumbs.

  6. BillM

    cool, did something similar yesterday when i ran out along a remote 3km sand-spit. GPS definitely gives that extra little nudge of motivation to get out there

  7. Scott

    There’s a skydiving operation on one of the palms in Dubai perhaps one of these days I’ll get to jump at it…

  8. David

    So the segment that’s on that run in Strava which is listed as an 11% grade really isn’t?

  9. Scott Paul Roberts

    Did you see anyone else running or biking while on your route in Dubai?

    • It was at night, and at the start of their weekend – so most people were out and about doing normal person weekend things.

      I did see one other runner mid-way out the palm. There’s also a two-lane running path out there too, but I somehow missed it (it was my intention to run on it). So that likely would have had more people there then where I ran along the road.

  10. Andrew Davies


    I did a similar run earlier this year :

    link to

    But I was determined to get to the Atlantis hotel – so I ignored the NO PEDESTRIANS signs at the entrance to the tunnel and carried on. It was only between tracks on my iPod that I heard the man on the PA saying no walking in the tunnel. I thought “what the heck, I’m running not walking”

    It got very hairy the other side near Atlantis where there was only a steep grassy verge next to the road which I had to scramble across.

    Plan was to run back to my hotel but instead after using the facilities in Atlantis (looking a right sight, covered in mud and grass stains!) I bailed and took a taxi back.

    Dubai definitely isn’t built for runners.


  11. Ibizage

    Hello crack! You have plans to analyze the S630H Amis? Looks very interesting quality / price.

  12. George

    I was there in April and planned to run the palm as well but I got discouraged by the heavy traffic and by how the place didn’t seem very pedestrian/runner friendly.
    Now I’m jealous!

  13. Stuart Walker

    Running through the Atlantis tunnel is risky due to (i) the vehicular traffic and (ii) the high levels of carbon monoxide that apparently pool at the bottom of the tunnel. But if you get a cab or take the monorail out onto the breakwater there is plenty of pavement for safe running with great views of the city and the sea.

  14. heatwave23

    Hey Ray,

    I am headed to Dubai in end of Jan did you get a chance to do any cycling? If do do you have any recommendations? Is finding a decent road bike to rent possible or am I better off taking mine?

  15. mitch

    Im not sure if dubai was a one off trip or if you go often. Next time you should check this place out dedicated to cycling. I think there are 5 paths of various lengths (from 8 to 60km) close to 100km if you do them all. And the whole think is out in the sand dunes. I just got back from dubai and a friend told me it is cool. I plan on doing it next time i go. You can rent road bikes from the treck shop.

  16. Alison Kirrage

    Just to set aside some misconceptions. There are loads of safe places to run and ride and swim in Dubai. There are several running, cycling and Tri clubs here. Loads of friendly welcoming folk who will happily welcome you to this vibrant city. The weather here is perfect for training for at least 8 months of the year. Please don’t be put off by well meaning souls who need to do a little homework before setting out. As for running/cycling to Atlantis, I’ve never run through the tunnel as I don’t run, but have cycled several times. No problems cycling through, it’s a bit loud but I didn’t feel unsafe. And with regard to elevation readings on Garmin devices, some of the underpasses on The Palm are very likely below sea level.

    • I don’t think anyone has said anything bad about running in Dubai. I’ve swim/bike/run many times in the city, all without issue. Like any other city, there are good places to run and bad places to run.

      I didn’t do underpasses, only overpasses. 😉