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Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola and Worknesh Degefa lead an Ethiopian clean-sweep at the 2017 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon today (Friday) as Kenenisa Bekele’s world record bid fell apart in the opening few strides.
Tola took advantage after pre-race favourite Bekele fell to the ground at the start gun after being tripped in an incident described by the Race Referee as “unintentional contact.”
It was a crushing blow for Bekele after setting his sights on Dennis Kimetto’s World Record. After falling at the start, the three-time Olympic gold medallist found himself back down the field and never really recovered as the leaders accelerated away at world record breaking pace leaving Bekele to drop out at around 23k clutching his left calf.
“I came to Dubai to do something special – however it was not to be,” said a disappointed Bekele. “I fell down at the start and got hurt. I tried to run, but it didn’t work. I just hope to come back to Dubai one day and show what I can do here.”
The early fast pace – with the pack of a half dozen as much as 45 seconds up on world record pace at halfway – told in the latter stages as Tola eased home in a new course record time of 2:04:11, more than two minutes ahead of compatriots Mule Wasihun (2:06:46) and Sissay Lemma (2:08:04).
“The pace was very fast at the start,” said Tola after receiving his trophy from HH Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai International Marine Club and Julian Wynter, Standard Chartered Bank CEO UAE. “The 15k time (43.26) was much too fast but when we saw that Kenenisa was well behind, I became more confident. I’m happy to win but I think I could have run under 2.04”.
In the women’s race, Marathon debutante Worknesh Degefa won the $200,000 prize at the first attempt crossing the line in 2:22:36 – the fourth fastest time in the event’s history – with Shure Demise in second (2:22:57) and Yebrgual Melese taking third (2:23:13).
A superlative half-marathoner, Degefa put the extra training distance to good use by running away from all but Demise, one of the pre-race favourites. Demise managed to claw back some of the deficit in the penultimate kilometre, but when she saw Degefa still running strongly, she was forced to settle for second.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and held under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon saw around 30,000 runners compete in the Marathon, the 10km Road Race and the 4km Fun Run.
In the wheelchair category, there was a battle royal between Spain’s Rafa Botello and Patrick Monahan of Ireland with both men fighting it out all the way to the finish line. In the end it was the Spaniard who emerged triumphant on his Dubai debut storming home in 1:31:19, just three seconds ahead of Monahan who was also racing on the Dubai roads for the first time. Third place went to defending champion JohnBoy Smith of Great Britain (1:36:25).
The 10km Road Race saw Samir Jouaher of Morocco successfully defend his crown (28:34) with Ethiopia’s Wuletaw Adane in second (28:57) and Morocco’s Ahmed Tamri third (29:27). The women’s 10km Road Race saw victory go to the UAE’s Alia Mohammed in 33:07 ahead of Ethiopian Berhan Aregawi (33:32) and third placed Amanda Bohlin of Sweden 36:53).
As well as Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Sport 360, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.