Dubai: The winner of the Fujairah International Half Marathon stands to earn a bonus of $100,000 (Dh367,192), should he break the world record when the race is held along the Fujairah Corniche on Friday morning.
Defending champion Evans Kiplagat from Kenya is among the strong favourites to win the race and along with it the $100,000 bonus.
“I am confident I can set a much better time tomorrow and my only hope is that the weather will be cooler so that I can achieve this,” he told Gulf News after the pre-event conference on Thursday.
Last year, the annual race that is being held under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, saw the Kenyan win in a time of 1:05.11.43 — a distant cry from the world record time of 58.23 minutes held by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who set the mark in March 2010 in Lisbon.
Traby Hmatou Laila of France won top honours in the women’s race in a slow time of 1:23.48.26. The best time of 1:05.50 in the world in the women’s half marathon was set by Mary Keitany of Kenya at the 2012 Ras Al Khaimah half marathon.
Kiplagat blamed humid conditions for his dismal time in last year’s race.
“I have spent a lot of time training at high altitude and hopefully everything will fall in place tomorrow,” he said.
“We have kept a very flat course for the race with the hope that the runners have a go at the world record. We have also preponed the race by half an hour to 6.30am so that conditions are more favourable for the runners,” race director Saleh Mohammad Hassan said.
The Fujairah Half Marathon involves a distance of 21.0975 km and will start at 6.30 am. The 10km run for men will start at 7 am. The remaining four races — 5km for youth, 3km for sub-juniors, 2km for mothers and children and a special 1 km race for wheelchair athletes — will be held from 4pm.
So far, more then 1,600 runners from around the world have confirmed their participation for the half marathon, while the total number of runners for all six races is expected to cross 10,000. “The winners in the main races for men and women are expected to be from Kenya, Eithopia or one of the North African countries,” noted Salem Zahmi, president of the organising committee.
“We are pleased with this strong field and hopefully, one of the top runners will break the world record and take home the bonus amount,” Zahmi said.