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Defending champions David Barmasai and Asselefech Medessa will return to the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon next month and like the many of the elite field they will have one thing on their minds – Olympic qualification.
With London staging the Olympic Games in the summer of 2012, the cream of distance running has just a few months to secure a good time and national selection for the biggest marathon of them all – and with the Dubai route renowned as arguably the flattest in the world, organisers expect a line-up of male and female runners intent on pushing themselves and their rivals to the absolute limit.
This year’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon saw Kenya’s Barmasai emerge as the surprise package in the men’s field, storming home for the second win of his short marathon career in a time of 2h:07m:18s, while Medessa clinched the women’s title for Ethiopia in 2h:22m:45s.
“We are delighted that both David and Asselefech will return in 2012 but they are both well aware that the field will be one of the strongest ever seen in the history of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,” said event director Peter Connerton following fact-finding missions to both Kenya and Ethiopia.
“It’s Olympic year which means runners are focused on qualifying for London. There are only six marathon slots available per federation – three for men and three for women – which means plenty of talented athletes will miss out. But if they can post a quick time in Dubai they may well make the plane to London. The stakes are high and we expect that to be reflected in the pace of the race in January.”
To be held on January 27, the 2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is once again staged under the auspices of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council with Standard Chartered as the title sponsor.
While Barmasai was the first Kenyan to win the men’s race since 2007, it was also an indication of a swing in the balance of power in distance running with Ethiopia losing its grip on the classic distance.
“During our trip to Africa, we visited the heartlands of distance running to meet with agents, coaches and athletes alike,” said Connerton.
“The state of the sport is particularly strong in Kenya right now and the training camps are brimming with emerging talent. However, despite Kenya’s recent dominance over Ethiopia in marathon running, we were also able to meet the best up-and-coming talent in Ethiopia and expect to announce some great additions to the field in due course.”
Now recognised with Gold Label status from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by The Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Holding, “Official Outfitter” adidas, Emaar, Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, Sport 360, TNT, Fitness First, Plan B and by government departments Dubai Police, RTA, Dubai Municipality DHA and the Dubai Ambulance Services.
Runners looking to compete in the Marathon, the 10km or the 3km Fun Run can register online at this website.