Anything is possible, believes Dana Zubari, once she has put her mind to it. The 30-year-old is constantly testing the boundaries of her endurance as she trains for some of the toughest challenges in the world.
To say that Dana Zubari is a bundle of energy would be an understatement. When this commodities trader is not managing her clients’ assets, she is setting milestones for herself and training to attain them. In fact, so impressed was Shaikh
Nasser by the courage and dedication shown by this vivacious Bahraini that he participated at the half marathon in Berlin a month after Dana had completed a Half Ironman in Majorca this year. A self-confessed foodie and party girl, Dana Zubari shares with us her passion for life and all things competitive.
Woman This Month (WTM): Tell us about your childhood.
Dana Zubari (DZ): I grew up in Kuwait and was always a sporty kid. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I was winning first prizes in all 100- and 200-metre sprints, and long jump competitions.
I used to teach swimming after school and over the summer holidays for pocket money. I picked up volleyball when I was 13 and ended up playing it through high school and university.
I was awarded ‘most valuable player’ during my high school years and at Lebanese American University.
WTM: Not many Bahraini girls would pick up the sort of hobbies that you have. What drives you to take up these challenges?
DZ: Honestly speaking, I’ve always been interested in broadening my sports spectrum. I go scuba diving in the summer and for skiing in the winter. I started riding only a few years ago.
I don’t know whether it’s because I get bored of going to restaurants or seeing the same people over and over again. Moreover, if a challenge is presented to me, I like to go ahead and prove myself.
My friends goaded me into running my first event, which was a biathlon in Bahrain. It comprised a 300-metre swim and a three-kilometre run, where I was awarded the first prize. That’s how it all started. My friends then started pushing me to run longer distances and participate in bigger events.
WTM: What other events have you competed in so far?
DZ: I did the Bahrain Grand Prix run, where I was awarded second place in my age category. Then I did a 17.5-kilometre afternoon run across the island. Next, I ran the Seef Half Marathon, a 21.1kilometre race.
Last year, I competed in my first full marathon in Dubai, which was a distance of 42.2kilometres that I completed in four hours and 35 minutes. I also ran a half marathon in Germany in 2012, which was really fun. It was literally a run up and down a mountain.
WTM: What sort of training do you undertake before an event?
DZ: I start training by 4am so that I can finish before it gets really hot outdoors. My regime starts with short sprints, following which I do the long distance training. It’s a ‘four times a week’ programme, which comes down to three times a week before the event.
Otherwise, I do a lot of high-intensive interval training round the year to get the heart rate up in addition to weight training for tightening up the muscles. I always carry my timer and workout chart in my bag!
WTM: How does your family take to your pastimes?
DZ: For starters, my husband and his family have been great. They’ve been very understanding, even when I’ve passed out in the middle of a family dinner or party due to sheer exhaustion!
My father was initially apprehensive that I was taxing my body too much and hurting my knees. But now, my family are my strongest supporters. I couldn’t have done all this without their backing.
WTM: What has been your toughest challenge so far?
DZ: It was the Dubai Marathon last November. The training was so tough on my body that I couldn’t walk straight or at all after the race was over! After Dubai, the 70.3-mile Half Ironman competition in Majorca seemed easy by comparison. I finished it in seven hours and two minutes – an hour less than I had anticipated.
WTM: What sort of infrastructure is there for runners in Bahrain?
DZ: I wish there were more jogging tracks on the island. There’s always a risk of stumbling or spraining your ankle on uneven pavements. But groups like the Bahrain Roadrunners provide a great support system, where likeminded people can train together. I formed some of my closest friendships with runners I met here. Also, I was lucky to be sponsored by the Shaikh Nasser Foundation for my Half Ironman at Majorca in May.
WTM: What would you like to accomplish in the near future?
DZ: Well, having completed the Half Ironman, the next logical step would be to go for the full version, which is a 140.6 mile event. It is a swimming, biking and running event that presents the ultimate test of body, mind
I’m aiming for the Ironman competition in Nice, which takes place in June. Of course, I will have to find sponsorship to be able to participate in this event.
WTM: Do you have a role model?
DZ: My role model is Michele Ajaji, a mother-of-five who still competes in races and beats girls half her age. She is an amazing mother, wife, cook and human being. I really hope to be like her in the future.