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Kenyan runners will be aiming to prevent a hat-trick of Ethiopian successes when the cream of African long distance running come together for the 2014 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 24.
While Kenya has an imposing record of success in the major city marathons in recent years, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is an exception to the rule. Ethiopians rule the roost when it comes to the men’s competition on this quick course, while Kenya has produced a men’s champion on just one of the past six occasions when David Barmasai broke through on the international scene three years ago.
Ethiopia has shown an unprecedented depth of talent in the past two years with both men’s winners being debutants at the classic road distance – Ayele Abshero broke the course record with 2:04:23 in 2012 with Lelisa Desisa clocking 2:04:45 last year.
But on January 24, the Kenyans will be going all out to reclaim supremacy despite the line-up boasting a potent mix of Ethiopian experience and promising debutants.
Jonathan Maiyo will be the standard bearer of Kenyan hopes and he has every reason to be confident – in 2012 he smashed his personal best in Dubai by almost eight minutes, improving from 2:12:45 to 2:04:56. Although a world-class time, it was only good enough for fourth place behind an Ethiopian trio. This year the 25 year-old has run one marathon finishing 10th in Tokyo in 2:10:18 and has every intention of being back to his best for Dubai.
Also returning to Dubai is Kenyan Nicholas Kipkemboi, who made his marathon debut in Dubai in 2013, clocking a fine 2:06:33 for sixth place. One of the Kenyans’ strongest opponents from Ethiopian will be Markos Geneti who edged out Maiyo for third in Dubai in 2012. The Ethiopian finished two seconds ahead with a personal best of 2:04:54 and is one of nine sub 2:07 runners in the field, with more athletes to be added in the coming weeks.
Hoping to make it a third consecutive win for Ethiopian marathon debutants is Atsedu Tsegay who won the New Delhi Half Marathon last week. Competing against a very strong field, the 21 year-old clocked 59m:12s to break the course record – his half marathon best is an even more impressive 58m:47s.
Abera Kuma is another promising Ethiopian making his marathon debut in Dubai. The 23 year-old has a proven track pedigree, twice qualifying for the World Championships – at the age of 20 he was fifth in the 5,000m final in Daegu in South Korea in 2011, a feat he repeated this year in the 10,000m in Moscow. Last year he gave a strong indication of his ability on the road, making his half marathon debut in Birmingham finishing second in 60m:19s.
“We are putting together a talented field of elites for the marathon with a great mix of experienced runners and up and coming potential,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “These athletes know that a race time that would normally win any other major race might not even be good enough for a podium place in Dubai so they have to be at their best.
“Last year, the top five were all under 2:05 – a first in marathon history – with a fantastic fight to the finish line. With a great field taking shape for January 24, we should be in for yet another fast and hard fought race in 2014.”
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, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, Adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police, the RTA and Dubai Municipality.
Runners looking to register for the marathon as well as the popular 10km men and women’s event and the 3km Fun Run can do so only at the official web site www.dubaimarathon.org.