'Barefoot Mallu' sets up marathon in UAE for health awareness among expats

Aakash Nambiar who runs solo marathons to spread awareness about the lifestyle diseases works as a marketing leader with an IT company in Bengaluru.

Abu Dhabi: A Keralite youth, who embarked on a marathon against lifestyle diseases, has inspired foreign lands as well. Aakash Nambiar, a native of Kalyaserry in Kannur runs solo marathons to spread awareness about the lifestyle diseases, works as a marketing leader with an IT company in Bengaluru recently took his unique way of creating awareness to the United Arab Emirates.

On 25th January, Aakash began running from Abu Dhabi Corniche at 5.30 am and stopped on the 26th, the Republic Day of India, at 10 am in the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai. He had covered around 118 kilometers in 27 hours. There are reports that it is for the first time that a Malayali youth has run alone from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Earlier, a native youth had run from Dubai to Abu Dhabi with the support of the authorities, in 2 days.


Aakash appealed to the people to keep away diabetes, cancer, heart ailments, obesity and other lifestyle diseases by running for at least 30 minutes a day and staying fit. The solo race, that had ‘Clean, Green and Fit’ as its motto, was flagged off online by Milind Soman, who is a well known model, actor and fitness promoter.

Though Aakash began running barefoot, he couldn’t continue on the Abu Dhabi – Dubai highway after 3 hours. He immediately switched to the vibram shoes which is a light weight footwear that replicates the barefoot experience. Aakash has understood from his experiences that running barefoot is more effective when it comes to achieving fitness. He sprinted when there weren’t heavy traffic and ran at a minimum speed during the rest of the time. Aakash says that running on the Abu Dhabi – Dubai highway that has a speed limit of 140 kilometers per hour was quite a challenge. The speeding cars and the strong dusty winds had often put him off-balance.


“Confidence was all I had when I ran a solo marathon in an unknown country. Many people stopped their vehicles and offered me rides and food. A Pakistani driver who saw me four times in the day kept saying that he would take me to Dubai in his car. He offered me the ride thinking that I was running as I have no money. When I told him my intention, he left, gifting me a bottle of drinking water,” says Aakash.

Aakash who completed his engineering degree from Kannur, did MBA at Bengaluru. Despite his busy schedules, Aakash finds time to serve the public through various campaigns and awareness programs.


He is of the opinion that expatriate Keralites in the Gulf work incredibly hard but they do not take good care of their health. Aakash chose UAE as a venue for his solo marathon to spread awareness among the Keralites about the importance of being healthy.

Keralites have become lethargic with the advent of technology and other modern facilities. Smoking, alcoholism and over-eating too contribute to ill health. Aakash explained to them the importance of indulging in some form of exercise or physical activity for at least half an hour a day.


The youngster had carried drinking water, dried fruits and chocolates with him during the long distance run. He rested for an hour at Shahama after completing 40 kilometres in the first leg of the run. He also took short breaks at Al Samha, Ghantoot and at the Last Exit. Aakash who is known as the ‘barefoot Mallu’ on the social media has taken part in most major marathons in India.

This is his 6th run from one major city to another. Aakash had earlier covered 140 kilometers from Bengaluru to Mysuru in 2 days. He had also run 145 kilometers from Goa to Gokarna, 125 kilometers from Una in Himachal Pradesh to Dharamshala, 150 kilometers from Puducherry to Chennai. In another international run, Aakash had covered 120 kilometers from Colombo in Sri Lanka to Punavathuna. He usually runs during the last few days of the year, completing the feat on the New Year’s day.


Aakash says that he pondered a lot on the climate in UAE before choosing 26th January for his epic run. The fact that it was India’s Republic Day too was significant.

The 30-year-old fitness enthusiast says that he would consider marriage when he finds someone who is interested to run with him. Aakash who didn’t enjoy running as a kid, began long distance running after he was inspired by Milind Soman.

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