Meet the two Dubai-based endurance athletes who were crowned stars of this year’s Dubai Fitness Challenge by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Dubai residents Ghani Souleyman from Togo and Filipino national Paolo Mangilinan said they pushed themselves to the limit for the Dubai Fitness Challenge this year, and are deeply honoured with Sheikh Hamdan’s special mention.
While Souleyman ran an ultramarathon distance of 45 km per day for 30 days, Mangilinan swam 10 km per day for 30 days.
Sheikh Hamdan tweeted the duo’s pictures and said, “Well done to the two stars of the Challenge.” He added, “Thank you to everyone who took part in @DXBFitChallenge, an initiative that works to transform Dubai into one of the world’s most active and dynamic cities. It motivated us all to set tougher personal goals and actually achieve them.”
Endurance swimming coach swam for 4 hours every day
An endurance swimming coach and Dubai resident for ten years, Mangilinan said, “It was really overwhelming and an honour to receive these kind words from Sheikh Hamdan today.” For 30 days, he swam along the coast of Dubai and on one of the days of the challenge, he swam all the way to the World Islands.
He told Khaleej Times, “I would start swimming at 6:30 am everyday and would end by about 9:30 am.”
Mangilinan had a team accompany him on a kayak for safety purposes. “The kayak would carry special nutrition and hydrating drinks and something to eat.”
He added, “I think I have swum all over the coast of Dubai. Some days I would swim from Black Palace Beach to Burj Al Arab and on day 29 I swam from Kite Beach all the way to the World Islands.”
Meanwhile, Ghani Souleyman, the endurance runner from Togo told Khaleej Times, “I felt very good hearing from Sheikh Hamdan. I really appreciate the kind gesture and have a lot of gratitude towards him for organizing this event despite the pandemic. It means a lot, to hear words of encouragement from the Crown Prince.”
The endurance athlete and trainer shared footage of his runs on the Instagram handle @ghanisouley and inspired many others to run as well. On the first day of the Fitness Challenge, he did an ultramarathon on Kite Beach. He would wake up at 2:00am, run 45 km and then head to work. Mid-challenge, Ghani and Mangilinan even sent inspiring cheer messages to each other over Instagram as well.