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– Chicago Marathon Winner & UNICEF Ambassador to Lock Horns with Kiplagat –
Dubai (UAE): Dubai is set to witness a true battle of the thoroughbreds at the $2 million Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon with two world champions set to go head- to-head in the battle for the $250,000 first prize in the ladies marathon.
While Haile Gebrselassie will be aiming to beat his own World Record in the men’s event and lift the $1 million bonus, the women’s field is the strongest ever seen in Dubai and certainly reflects the standing of the January 18 race as the richest race in history for female distance runners.
Holland’s Kenyan-born star Lornah Kiplagat currently holds the world’s best times for both the 20km and the half-marathon and was crowned world cross country champion in her original homeland of Kenya ten months ago.
Yet despite that glittering track record, she faces one of the toughest competitors in distance running in the shape of 34 year-old Ethiopian Berhane Adere who has also thrown her hat into the ring.
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 2008 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see Kiplagat up against another world champion with a record equally as impressive as her own.
“For the last two years, Adere has won the Chicago Marathon and comes to Dubai with a high-class pedigree of performances both on road and on the track.,” said Event Director Peter Connerton.
A 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. Her first World Championship silver came in Edmonton in 2001 before she clinched gold over 10,000m in Paris in 2003. Two years later it was silver again in Helsinki when a 60-second final lap wasn’t enough to deny compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba the title.
Adere hasn’t limited herself to running, however, and also works for the UN as a goodwill ambassador in Africa attempting to teach women and children the value of education.
“Sports can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life – I am a living witness of that,” she said. “When I stop running I want to do more with education,” she said. “It is very important for both women and for children.”
Her marathon best of 2:20:42 is just under two minutes quicker than Kiplagat’s personal best but it will surely count for nothing when it comes down to the head-to-head and the race for the winner’s cheque of $250,000 in a race which offers a combined prize-fund for men and women of $1 million.
“Lornah and Berhane are just two supreme athletes in what is a powerful field of women’s distance runners,” added event General Co-ordinator Ahmad Al Kamali. “Both the men’s and women’s events will be wonderful to watch.