January 25th, 2018

Fierce Battles Expected At Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon

The fastest marathon runner in the history of the event, Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola starts as favourite in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon today (Friday) with an eye on creating yet another running milestone in the city.

Last year the 26 year-old Ethiopian stunned a loaded field, which included his more famous compatriot Kenenisa Bekele, by coming home in a course record of 2.04.11 – 42 seconds quicker than even the legendary Haile Gebrselassie achieved in Dubai in 2008.

“I never thought I was going to win last year with Kenenisa in the field but I was well prepared,” said Tola. “I knew the course because I’d run here before and I thought I could do well and even though I won I still thought I could have gone quicker.

“I started back training in October and have just been feeling better and better. So I’m just as well prepared as last year, if not better. I’d like to go through the half in 61.30, and I’d like to think I could run under 2.04”.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is renowned for its flat and fast course.

Only once in the last five years has the men’s finishing time been outside 2.05 with Tola’s main rival in today’s race likely to be fellow Ethiopian Endeshaw Negese who finished fourth in Dubai four years ago in 2.04.52

The women’s race should be far more competitive with three-time winner and course record holder Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia back for the first time since 2015 and still one of the most popular winners in the event’s history. As well as three Dubai titles, her polished pedigree also includes victory at the London Marathon in 2010, second in New York and Paris and a World Championships bronze medal in Berlin 2009.

In her absence last year, colleague Worknesh Degefa won on her marathon debut in 2.22.36 and although she went on to run a string of fast half-marathons an injury put paid to an autumn marathon.

Also in the women’s field is Mare Dibaba who is arguably the most accomplished runner in both fields. Dibaba was third in Dubai in 2012, going sub-2.20 behind Mergia and Lucy Kabuu of Kenya but matured successfully three years later when becoming world champion in Beijing in 2015. She has also won Chicago and Xiamen (twice), and finished second in Boston.

The elites will take to the streets of Dubai at 6.00am – five minutes after the event’s greatest line-up of world-class wheelchair racers – to be followed one hour later by the rest of the Marathon field. The 10km Road Race and 4km Fun Run will get underway at 9.00am and 11.00am respectively.

As well as Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.

Full race information and live TV coverage is available from www.dubaimarathon.org.

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