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Dubai (UAE): Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie will be hoping for a case of third time lucky when he returns to Dubai in January to defend the title he has won for the past two years at the 2010 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
The current world record holder, Gebrselassie met with race officials in his home town of Addis Ababa last week to confirm he will return to Dubai for a third crack at breaking one of the most celebrated world records in sport on January 22.
“There are few, if any, greater names in athletics history than Haile Gebrselassie so once again we are proud and delighted that he has chosen to make his next marathon appearance in Dubai in three months time,” said Event Director Peter Connerton.
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 saw Gebrselassie make his Dubai debut in January 2008 with a sensational winning time that was the second fastest in history. Last year, he defied some unseasonal rain showers to win again, this time posting the eighth best time ever to win from up-and-coming countryman Deressa Chimsa.
“Last year the rain was bad and I wasn’t feeling 100% so to win and prove I could run well in the wet weather was a bonus for me,” said Gebrselassie.
“I still can’t believe I didn’t break the world record in 2008 – everything was perfect except the pace for the first half of the race, which was too fast. For me, Dubai is a perfect racing venue.
“It’s only a short flight from Addis, the weather is usually beautiful, the course itself is very, very good and the athletes are treated really well. I’m already training hard and looking forward to running again in Dubai in January.”
Gebrselassie’s last marathon appearance was in Berlin in September where he won for the fourth consecutive year but fell short of breaking his own world record of 2h:03m:59s he set a year earlier on the flat course. He did, however, pass through the 30km point in 1:27:49, a new world record for a road 30km and the 27th of his incredible career.
His return to compete in the US$2 million Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is expected to increase entries for an event that has raised awareness of the emirate as a venue for road running.
“We are already counting the days until Haile lines up with marathon runners from across the world,” said Ahmed Al Kamali, Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon General Co-ordinator, President of the UAE Athletics Federation and Al Ahli Club Board Member.
“He is an inspiration to millions of runners around the globe and we believe his third appearance in Dubai will help encourage people of all ages in the UAE to take to the streets and start running. It’s fun and it’s healthy – whether it’s the full marathon distance, the 10km or the 3km Fun Run, there’s a race for everyone at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.”
Entries for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon are being accepted now at all branches of Fitness First in Dubai and online at the event’s official website www.dubaimarathon.org. Teams and individuals are asked to ensure of their places in the line-up before the closing date for entries on December 31.