January 24th, 2014

Asefa, Seboka Lead Ethiopian Whitewash

For the third year in a row, a marathon ‘new boy’ won the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon as teenager Tsegaye Mekonnen led an Ethiopian whitewash in the emirate today (January 24)

The 18 year-old caused a major surprise, running 2h:04m:32s in his first marathon, to break the unofficial World Junior Record by 95 seconds and record the second fastest time ever seen in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

The second and third placed athletes also achieved world-class times of sub 2:06 with fellow Ethiopians Markos Geneti and Girmay Birhanu finishing in 2:05:13 and 2:05:49 respectively.

As expected the women’s race was also dominated by Ethiopians, who took the first nine places. Surprisingly Mula Seboka beat favourites Meselech Melkamu and Meseret Hailu to romp home in 2:25:01 and collect the US$200,000 first prize. Melkamu followed in second place with 2:25:23, Firehiwot Dado was third in 2:25:53 with Hailu fourth in 2:26:20.

“The pace was changing a lot during the first half and I think with an even pace I could have run faster,” said Tsegaye Mekonnen. “But of course I’m very happy and proud of my performance. I had no idea about the World Junior Record so this is a bonus for me.”

The men’s race began very fast with split times that were well inside the world record of 2:03:23 established by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang in Berlin in 2013. A group of around 20 athletes passed 10km in 29:14 and then reached the half way mark in 61:37.

But by that stage the pace had already dropped to around 2m:58s to 3m per kilometre. This was not fast enough for Kipsang’s world record, which was soon out of reach.

However, with a new unofficial World Junior Record (the IAAF does not not officially list junior records for the marathon) and the second best time for the event in fifteen years, the men’s race once again underlined the pace of what is one of the fastest courses in world marathon running.

For Seboka, who finished 11th in Dubai two years ago and subsequently outside of the money, the richest prize available in international marathon running will make a huge difference.

“I will partly use this to support my parents and some poor people back home,” said the diminutive Ethiopian. “I will have to speak to my husband about what we do with the other part of it.”

In the 10km Road Race, victory in the men’s division went to John Ndugu of Kenya (28m:56s) with Feysa Dejene Amosha of Ethiopia in second (28m:58s) and Ihya Ben-Youssef of Morocco in third (29m:32s). The women’s race saw victory go to Gladys Jemaiyo (33m:40s) of Kenya as her compatriot Sheila Jeptoo Rono (35m:03s) and Selam Wale Mihret of Ethiopia (35m:44s) claimed second and third respectively.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council and supported by the Dubai Sports Council, Adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police, the RTA and Dubai Municipality, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon saw the trophies presented by a host of dignitaries.

Leading the presentation party was HH Sheikh Majed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman Dubai Culture & Art Authority with HE Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, Ahmed Al Kamali, President of the UAE Athletics Federation and IAAF Council Member, and Jonathan Morris, Standard Chartered Bank CEO UAE.


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