Dubai: The stage is set for the biggest ever Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. Tomorrow, over 20,000 runners will hit the streets of Dubai to shatter the record for the highest number of participants in the 15-year-old history of the event.
For Ahmad Al Kamali, the General Co-ordinator of the Dubai Marathon, President of the UAE Athletic Federation and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council member, it will be a special moment.
Kamali, who visualised this event and transformed it into one of the finest marathons in the world told Gulf News: “I am so happy to be linked with such an event. Fifteen years ago when this marathon began, only around 100 runners took part and to see this event grow to such proportions with the best runners taking part makes me very happy.”
Twelve months ago the Marathon scaled greater heights with men and women shattering the course record. Former world junior cross country champion Ayele Abshero from Ethiopia won the men’s event with a time of 2:04.23 followed by two Ethiopians and a Kenyan running under the 2:05 mark.
In the women’s race new bests were also recorded with Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia winning with a timing of 2:19.31 with three women running under the 2:20 mark.
With excellent weather conditions expected, Dubai Marathon organisers are hoping for another string of new records. Peter Connerton, the event director said: “We only hope the weather does not get too hot on Friday. We had fantastic conditions last year. We had 14 degrees at start and 15 degrees at finish last year. I was out there today at the course and it was 14 degrees at 7am and 16 at the finish time so I don’t think that weather will change dramatically. We will once again deliver a good show.”
The best runners from around the world have once again arrived to take part except for the two winners in the men’s and women’s categories who could not recover from their injuries in time to retain their titles. Ethiopian and Kenyan runners who have dominated in this event are once again here in large numbers.
J.W. Marriott Marquis Dubai, which is the official hotel for the event was filled with runners around the world, collecting their run numbers and race packs.
Rupprecht Queitsch, General Manager of J.W. Marriott told Gulf News: “It is very vibrant and motivating to see so many people being here wanting to run. It has even livened up our hotel. We are proud to have all the best runners in our hotel.”
Jonathan Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of the title sponsors Standard Chartered, said: “We are delighted to be associated with this event for the last nine years. It is very pleasing to see the event grow in stature and significance over the years.
Adidas, the official outfitter of the event is giving ClimaCool running shirt to every participant in the Dubai Marathon with. The shirt is designed to help runners to stay cool and ventilated throughout their race. With leading body temperature control technology, adidas claim the shirt provides outstanding breathability and moisture management to keep runners at their best throughout the marathon.
Ethiopian women runners Tirfi Tsegaye and Koren Jelela, coached by Gemedu Dedefo, are here as strong contenders while in the men’s section their countrymen Yemane Tsegay and Dadi Yami are the favourites.