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– Entry Deadline Extended As Marathon Mania Hits UAE Runners –
Dubai (UAE): Kenyan distance star Sammy Korir – the third fastest marathon man in history – will have world record holder Haile Gebrselassie in his sights at the $2 million Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 18. Now 36, Korir raced into the history books as only the second man ever to run under 2 hours, 5 minutes, when he finished second in the 2003 Berlin Marathon in 2:04:56. In one of the greatest marathon runs in history, Korir was narrowly beaten by just one second by fellow countryman and the then world record holder Paul Tergat. Since then, however, Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie has lowered the world’s best time for the 42.195km race to 2:04:26 – set in Berlin in October 2007 – and both men will have their hearts set on breaking that time once again as well as on the $1 million bonus cheque that goes with it in Dubai in two weeks time.
“The quality of the field just gets better and better,” said Ahmed Al Kamali, General Co-ordinator of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, which is 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.
“To have two of the three fastest marathon runners in history underlines the strides we have made and ensures the 2008 Dubai Marathon will be one of the key athletics dates in the New Year.”
As expected, the appearance of Gebrselassie and now Korir, as well as multiple world record breaker Lornah Kiplagat in the women’s event, has fired up the passions of local and international athletes. And following unprecedented late interest in the marathon and its supporting 10km Road Race and 4km Fun Run, organisers have decided to extend the date for entries.
“The Eid Al Adha holidays and the recent Christmas and New Year break meant that many people were unable to register so we are giving them the opportunity of doing so up until midnight on January 10,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “We fully expect the marathon field to be bigger than ever, while the 10km and 4km runs are attracting a great deal of interest with runners from around the world flying in to join those who live in the region.”
Runners wanting to compete in an event offering a record prize-fund of $1 million as well as a bonus $1 million for a new marathon world record are asked to visit any branch of Standard Chartered or Fitness First, or simply register online at www.dubaimarathon.org.
Although injuries have played their part in limiting Korir’s recent outings, the gangly Kenyan has an impressive pedigree. As well as recording the third fastest time in history, he has won marathons in Cancun, Amsterdam, Turin, San Diego and Rotterdam as well as finishing runner-up in the majors in London (2004) and, of course, Berlin behind Tergat in 2003.
IMAGE: Sammy Korir – another athletics superstar confirms for Dubai