January 14th, 2009

WORLD’S ELITE AND BUDDING AMATEURS GATHER FOR PLANET’S RICHEST MARATHON

- Defending Champions Gebrselassie, Adere Head International Line-Up -
Dubai, (UAE): The 2009 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will hit the streets of the city at 6.30am on Friday (January 16) with defending champions Haile Gebrselassie and Berhane Adere leading an international field in a race worth a breathtaking US$ 2 million

The Middle East’s premier road racing event will see thousands of runners representing around 100 nations in a three-race card dominated by the classic marathon over 42.2km but also featuring the traditional 10km race and the 3km Fun Run.

. Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the US$1 million prize money is bolstered by a US$ 1 million bonus on offer to any athlete who breaks the current world record, courtesy of Dubai Holding.

Last year in Dubai, Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie set a new course record yet narrowly missed out on the bumper pay day, clocking 2:04:53 – the then second fastest time in history and just 27 seconds outside Gebrselassie’s own world best.

This year, the man with Olympic gold, world titles and 26 world records behind him returns for another crack at the roads of Dubai over a new course that takes the runners from the start/finish line at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, down the Beach Road to Union House and back.

While his target will be to successfully defend the crown he won twelve months ago, it is no secret that another world record attempt is on the cards. Gebrselassie became the first man to run a sub-2:04 when he stormed across the finish line in Berlin back in September 2008 and has high hopes over a course in Dubai that is flat, has few turns and enjoys benign weather conditions.

“We are delighted to welcome not only Haile but all of the elite runners who have joined us for the 2009 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,” said Event General Co-ordinator Ahmed Al Kamali. “Our thanks go to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his ongoing patronage as well as to title sponsors Standard Chartered, prize-money sponsors Dubai Holding and all our other corporate supporters.”

As well as Gebrselassie, other leading male runners with an eye on the winner’s cheque of US$250,000 include fellow Ethiopians and training partners Tesfaye Tola and Gudisa Shentema who have run sub 2:07 and sub 2:08 respectively, and Kenyan William Kiplagat, the second fastest man in the field with a personal best of 2:06:50.

The fastest long distance female runners in the world will also be targeting a bumper pay day. Expected to lead the chase is defending champion Berhane Adere alongside compatriot Bezunesh Bekele, who stunned the field last year by taking second place less than a minute behind Adere in what was her debut marathon. Again the first prize is US$250,000.

While the marathon itself will get underway in the cooler climes of dawn at 6.30am, several thousand runners will set off in the 10km race from the same start line at 6.45am several hours before the 3km Charity Run at 11am.

“Everyone who has registered should refer to their maps to see where they start,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “There are extensive parking facilities available at Dubai Media City, while people should not attempt to access the race from the directions of Jumeirah Beach Road, Al Sufouh Road or Al Wasl Road as these will be closed from early on Friday morning.

“The route is fast and flat with excellent road surfaces throughout. Water and energy drinks will be available at every 5km mark from 5km to 40km, while intermediary drink stations will have water approximately half way between each main drink station.

Sponges will also be available immediately after each main drink station, medical points will be set up around 200m after each drink station and toilets will be in place every 5km from the 10km-40km marks.

In addition to a day of memorable running, organisers and sponsors have erected spectator grandstands as well as an entertainment and refreshment area around the race HQ at The Westin Dubai.

As well as title sponsors Standard Chartered, other supporters of the event include Dubai Holding, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Puma, Arab Media Group (AMG), TNT and Fitness First with assistance provided by Dubai Sports Council, RTA, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Police.

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