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A sudden rush of runners keen to sign up for the 2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon has led to race organisers extending the entry deadline for the $1 million race scheduled for Downtown Dubai on January 27.
Athletes of all age, nationalities and abilities will now have an extra two weeks to sign up for the marathon, 10km and 3km runs – but event officials are warning them not to leave it to the last minute again.
“We have enforced online registration for the first time and, while it is going very well with figures well up on previous years, there will always be those runners who get caught up in the Christmas and New Year holiday excitement and simply forget to enter,” said Event Director Peter Connerton.
“Add in the weekend runners who simply want to start the New Year by getting a little fitter and we are seeing more and more people calling the office looking to get into the field. With that in mind, we have decided to extend the deadline and give more people the chance of running alongside the best in the world.”
Staged under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see the field start from outside The Pavilion Downtown Dubai opposite the Burj Khalifa. And that new location is also being given credit for attracting more runners than ever before.
“The Burj Khalifa is a global icon and I think many runners would love to say they have taken part in a race that takes place in the shadow of such an international symbol,” said Ahmed Al Kamali, President of the UAE Athletic Federation, IAAF Council Member and General Co-ordinator of the region’s first IAAF Gold Label race.
With 13,000 runners already registered for the three events on the race calendar, Event Director Connerton is confident that last year’s 14,000 record field will easily be eclipsed in 2012 – and with the late comers shaking off their New Year lethargy and being admitted to the line-up, figures could even be up 10% over last year.
One man who hasn’t been wasting any time in preparing for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is five-time Major winner Martin Lel.
The 33 year-old has a marathon personal best of 2h:05m:18s and will be one of the favourites for the $250,000 first prize in Dubai but the Kenyan put his 2012 celebrations on hold to join a star-studded field at the Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre, a 15km race in Sao Paolo, Brazil on December 31.
And while he may not have won over a distance that is far from his favourite event, his fourth place finish in a time of 44:28 will have given him a boost as he works on his speed work in preparation for the flat roads of Dubai at the end of the month. Runners looking to join Lel on the start line or compete in the 10km and 3km events can register online at www.dubaimarathon.org.
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by The Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Holding, “Official Outfitter” adidas, Emaar, Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, Sport 360, TNT, Fitness First, Plan B and by government departments Dubai Police, RTA, Dubai Municipality DHA and the Dubai Ambulance Services.