January 19th, 2008

Haile wins world’s richest race in second fastest time ever

– Ethiopian Legend Misses World Best After Lighting Start –

Dubai (UAE): A blistering early race pace put paid to Haile Gebrselassie’s world record chances at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon but the Ethiopian still stormed to victory in a time of 2:04:53 – the second fastest time in history.

Gebrselassie, who set the world best of 2:04:26 just four months ago, took the title and the richest-ever marathon first prize of $250,000 after running the final 12km out on his own. Despite appearing upbeat with his 2m:23s advantage over runner-up Isaac Macharia of Kenya, Gebrselassie was obviously disappointed to miss out on the $1 million bonus on offer for a new world record.

“Maybe the other guys were a little too good,” he smiled, referring to the lightning pace set by the race pacemakers. At the10km mark, Gebrselassie was 45 seconds up on his Berlin world record pace and at the halfway stage that advantage had stretched to 61 seconds, giving him a potential finishing time of well under 2.03.

He maintained his world record charge until the 35km mark when he still had 25 seconds in hand. But the Ethiopian’s early pace proved costly and in the end the record escaped him by just 27 seconds.

“Everything was perfect today but maybe I was missing just one little thing,” he added after receiving his trophy and winner’s cheque from HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Standard Chartered CEO UAE and Oman, Nigel Jones.

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 race also saw the richest purse in women’s marathon history. And it was early race favourite Berhane Adere who took the title in a new Dubai record time of 2:22:42.

Second home was fellow Ethiopian Bezenushe Bekele in a time of 2:23:09 in her first competitive marathon, while last year’ champion Askale Tafa Magarsa made it an Ethiopian 1-2-3 with a time of 2:23:23, faster than her winning time in 2007 but only good enough to take third.

Adere, winner of the last two Chicago Marathons, was delighted with her first Dubai title as well as the record prize-money of $250,000. “”It was a great race and I like the course very much,” she said. “I’m obviously delighted to have won in what was a very good time.”

Thousands of fervent Ethiopians mobbed Gebrselassie after his win, as thousands more started the 10km Road Race. In a true carnival atmosphere, visiting Hitchin runner Astrid McKeown took the women’s 10km title in a time of 36:46, just under two minutes ahead of Czech Petra Jerejian who edged second place from Svetlana Blazevic.

The men’s 10km title went to Tanzania’s Elisante Forro who won by 15 seconds (29:17) from compatriot Pascal Mombo (29:32) and Tesfaye Girmashifaw from Ethiopia. “The Dubai men’s record has been broken, the Dubai women’s record has been broken and Haile has set the second fastest time in history – what a day for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, “said Event Director Peter Connerton.

“The media interest has been incredible and we have really seen the event go to a new and exciting level. This is something for us to build on and we look forward to more key athletics dates in the future.”

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