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Dubai (UAE): With just days to go until the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, runners from around the world are making tracks for the Middle East’s biggest mass participation running event with more than 100 nationalities set to hit the start line on Friday (Jan 21).
Last year, more than 11,000 runners representing 121 nationalities took part in the three races – the marathon, the 10km and the 3km Fun Run. And with some 14,000 competitors expected in 2011, record numbers are expected when the marathon gets underway outside the American University at 7am.
As well as runners from the UAE’s cosmopolitan community and the elite field of athletes from the traditional hotbeds of Kenya and Ethiopia, dedicated tour parties of runners from as far afield as Japan and Germany are packing their running shoes for the $1 million event.
“Marathon tourism is a growing business with many people planning their holiday time around the world’s biggest running events,” said event director Peter Connerton. “We are delighted that the Dubai Marathon is now a key date on the international running calendar – having runners sign up from all corners of the world is positive promotion for the city as well as for the marathon.”
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and with the support of the Dubai Sports Council, the 2011 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon’s prize money is the richest in the world.
But while there will be record pay days of $250,000 for the winners of both the men and women’s marathons, there are also big prizes to be won in the other categories. In the 10km event, the winners of both the men and women’s race will collect a cheque for AED4,000, while the winners in the Marathon Wheelchair category will take home AED10,000.
In addition, Dubai Holding is supporting the efforts of UAE nationals by providing first prizes of AED10,000 for the leading UAE nationals (men and women) in the marathon as well as in the Marathon Wheelchair category.
Leading the 50-strong group of Japanese athletes will be former world championship bronze medalist Masako Chiba, the Dubai Marathon Japanese Ambassador, who will compete in the 10km.
The 34 year-old from Uji, Kyoto won the 10,000m bronze medal at the 1997 World Championships in Athens (31m:41.93s) and also took third place on the podium in the marathon at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is also supported by The Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Holding, “Official Outfitter” adidas, The Address Dubai Marina, Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, Khaleej Times, TNT, Gatorade, Aquafina, Fitness First, Men’s Fitness, Plan B and by government departments Dubai Police, RTA, Dubai Municipality DHA and the Dubai Ambulance Services.