Dubai: Kenyan running legend Martin Lel returns to next week’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon armed with a determination to add the world’s richest marathon to an already impressive CV.
The 34 year old has been training in the Kenyan hills of Elodoret, with a target of peaking for the award-winning event, which will get underway from Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai on January 25.
Last year, Lel failed to make his mark in what was a record-breaking race won by Ethiopian debutant Ayele Abshero in a time of 2:04:23 — a Dubai course record, the sixth fastest marathon time in history at the time and the fastest ever by a man making his marathon debut.
But Lel is back for another tilt at the title in 2013 with a desire to run at the highest level that appears to be as strong as ever, overcoming injury to bid for an Olympic marathon place last year. Although 2012 did not begin well for Lel in Dubai, the magic returned as the leggy Kenyan finished second in the London Marathon in a time of 2:06:51 in April.
It was his second consecutive runners-up spot in the London event and, but for the intense competition for the three Olympic places among the Kenyans, Lel might well have been on the Olympic start line in the UK capital just four months later.
“There’s no doubt Martin is one of the biggest names in marathon history and we are delighted he has decided to have another crack at the title in Dubai,” said Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Event Director Peter Connerton.
“As well as winning the London Marathon on three occasions in 2005, 2007 and 2008, Martin has also won the New York City Marathon in 2003 and 2007 and claimed fifth place in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. He continues to set quick times and, if he comes to Dubai in peak condition. there is no reason not to expect him to be among the front runners.”
Lel also won the World Half Marathon title in New York in 2003 and, although he failed to finish on his debut in Prague in 2002, he has since proven his ability beyond doubt, adding two victories in the Great North Run to his roll of honour. Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the IAAF Gold Label race is still open for registration. Runners are advised to register online at www.dubaimarathon.org before January 20. Entries are also still being accepted for the 10km Road Race and 3km Fun Run.