Dubai: Ethiopian runners blazed the marathon course, cutting through the dense morning fog to shatter the course record and create history for the fastest Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
Once again the Ethiopians established their dominance in the event with all the first 10 finishes in the men’s race being swept away by runners from the nation.
In the women’s race, the first seven finishes were by the Ethiopian women.
Mosinet Geremew led the Ethiopian march by breaking the course record and emerge as the new champion in the men’s race with a timing of 2:04:00. The previous course record was held by Tamirat Tola Adere from Ethiopia, who had posted a timing of 2:04:11 while emerging as the 2017 Dubai marathon champion. It was a sad day for Tola as he failed to defend the title following a collision with a runner while attempting to drink water in the 35km mark and could finish only third at in 2:04:06.
Debutant Leul Gebresilase finished second, ahead of Tola at 2:04:02.
“When you finish second in your first marathon there is no reason to be unhappy on not winning it,” said Gebresilase.
Tola, sportingly accepted the collision incident, and said: “One of the runners came in front of me and bumped on my left leg. I lost my balance but I don’t know if it had an impact on the result.”
In the women’s race, Roza Dereje of Ethiopia led the course record breaking spree with a timing of 2:19:17. She erased the course record of 2:19:31 held by 2012 Dubai Marathon winner Aselefech Mergia, who is also from Ethiopia and went on to be become the seventh fastest woman in marathon history. It is also the first time in marathon history that four women clocked sub-2:20 in one race with Ethiopia’s Feyse Tadese finishing second at 2:19:30, followed by Yebrgual Melese (2:19:36). Though defending champion Worknesh Degefa smashed her personal best by more than two minutes, she could finish only fourth at 2:19:53.
Speaking after receiving the winner’s trophy and prize money of US$200,000, men’s race winner Geremew said: “The pacemakers had nicely set-up the race for an exciting finish. Anybody from the six of us could have gone on and won the race, and fortunately it was me. I was happy to run at the pacemaker’s pace for the opening half. It was a good race with strong competition over a good course. I began to think about winning only when I had one kilometre to go.” Incidentally, the 27-year-old Geremew decided to enter the race only a few days before.
The race was so fast that it produced a unique result of seven runners clocking sub 2:05.00 with six of them no slower than 2:04:15. Though all the men ran at a world record speed, after the last pacemaker dropped out, the pace fell and the athletes focused more on winning the big prize money than go for a world record.
Twenty-two-year-old Dereje is delighted at having won the huge prize money of $200,000. “Our race was closely grouped for a long way of the trip but I managed to draw away from the pack and win.”
When Gulf News asked what does she plan to do with such a big prize money, a smiling Dereje said: “I will ask my husband and then decide what to do with the money. Soon I will also discuss with my coach and decide on which should be my next race.”
The wheelchair races produced a Swiss double with nine-time world champion and double Paralympic gold medallist Marcel Hug winning the men’s title (1h:25m:14s) and his compatriot Sandra Graf taking the women’s gold in 1:45:13.
Dubai Marathon once again stamped its mark as the sporting event with the biggest mass participation with a record field of more than 30,000 runners participating in different categories including the 10km and 4km fun race.
Samir Jouaher of Morocco emerged as the 10km men’s winner in 29m:31sec. Finishing ahead of Ethiopians Birnanu Birhanu and Beyene Amsalu. South Africa’s Gerda Steyn won the first place in women’s race in 34:35 sec, finishing ahead of Myriam Lamure of France, who finished second and Colombia’s Jinna Gar taking the third place.
1. Mosinet Geremew 2:04:00
2. Leul Gebresilase 2:04:02
3. Tamirat Tola 2:04:06
4. Asefa Mengstu 2:04:06
5. Sisay Lemma 2:04:08
1. Roza Dereje 2:19:17
2. Feyse Tadese 2:19:30
3. Yebrg Melese Arage 2:19:36.
4. Worknesh Degefa 2:19:53
5. Haftamnesh Tesfay 2:20:13