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Dubai (UAE): One year after the biggest payday of her athletics career, Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere will return to Dubai to defend her title in the 2009 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 16.
Last year, the 35 year-old set a new Dubai record for the women’s event when she stormed to victory in a time of 2h:22m:42s to collect gold and the winner’s cheque for US$250,000.
“We are delighted that Berhane has decided to defend her title in Dubai,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “Her win and new race record means she is part of the history of our event and will always be welcome on the streets of Dubai.”
Although Adere failed to finish after dropping out at the 30lm mark in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics, she followed her win in Dubai with seventh place in the London Marathon and will surely start the 2009 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon as one of the race favourites.
“It was a great race for me in Dubai and I like the course very much,” she said. “I was obviously delighted to have won in what was a very good time and I look forward to coming back.”
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see Adere up against the woman she beat to the title fellow Ethiopian Bezenushe Bekele.
“It was Bezenushe’s first ever marathon so for her to finish second over four minutes better than the previous women’s record was a wonderful result,” said the event’s General Co-ordinator Ahmed Al Kamali.
“Haile Gebrselassie’s new men’s record may have overshadowed the ladies but the top three women in 2008 all broke the previous ladies’ best for the event. It just goes to show the quality of field that is attracted to a race that is now the richest in the world.”
Once again the women’s field will be the strongest ever seen in the UAE with Adere, Bekele and last year’s third place finisher and former champion Askale Tafa Magarsa all going for the biggest prize in their chosen sport.
But it’s Adere they’ll all have to catch. Gold and two silvers at 10,000m in the World Championships as well as World Indoor and World Cup titles over 3,000m underline her class, while she combines he running with a role as a UN goodwill ambassador in Africa.
Runners looking to compete alongside the world’s elite marathon athletes have until December 31 to sign up at www.dubaimarathon.org or at any branch of Fitness First in Dubai.
As well as title sponsors Standard Chartered, other supporters of the event include Dubai Holding, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Puma, Arab Media Group (AMG), TNT and Fitness First with assistance provided by Dubai Sports Council, RTA, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Police.
IMAGE: Berhane Adere crosses the line to win the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2008