Dubai: The UAE’s Alia Mohammad Saeed believes she can get even better after she powered her way to victory in the 10-kilometre race at the Seventh Dubai Women’s Run held at Marasi Business Bay on Friday.
While Alia made amends for having to play catch up after a delayed start to her race to top the 10km run, it was Ethiopia’s Zenebu Checkole who went on to pick up the first prize in the 5km race at the annual event that was organised by Plan b with support from the UAE Athletics Federation (UAEAF) and Dubai Sports Council (DSC).
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC), the Dubai Women’s Run is the first such initiative in the Middle East celebrating the spirit of the Arab woman. Saeed Hareb, the general secretary of DSC was joined by Ahmad Al Kamali, the president of the UAEAF and Bollywood actor Sonu Sood at the post-race presentation ceremony.
“This was by far one of the toughest races I have run in my career as I never thought I was in the reckoning after starting way behind,” Alia told Gulf News after finishing with a time of 33.05 minutes — the fourth fastest time in the seven years of the race. “On the one hand I thought I was in a panic, but on the other I told myself to be calm as I went all out to catch up with the front pack.
“Such races can take a lot away from an athlete. I made the mistake of going to change into my official race attire just before the start, and by the time I came to the start line the 10km runners had been flagged off. From then on I was just playing catch up and cutting down on the lead till I came to the final few hundred metres to sprint to the finish.
“It’s a great lesson for me and I am all the more wise with this race. But it also means that I am capable of doing a really fast time in this distance. I have been training well and my next step will be to head back to Addis Ababa possibly on Sunday and continue with my training schedule.”
This is the second time that Alia has won the 10km race following her success in the distance at the 2014 edition. The UAE runner, who claimed gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in the 10,000 metres, has in the past won the 5km race in 2011 and stood second on a couple of occasions over the same distance in the 2012 and 2010 editions of this race.
Completing the next two podium spots was the Ethiopian pair of Ifa Megertu and Aregawe Birhane with times of 35.06 minutes and 37.26 minutes, while Frenchwoman Aline Schmitz came in fourth with a time of 40.35 minutes and Scotland’s Katy Hallside finished fifth with a time of 41.22 minutes.
The runners from Africa did well in the 5km race as well with three Ethiopians featuring in the top five. Zenebu Checkole came in first with a time of 16.29 minutes leaving Serbia’s Olivera Jevtic in second with a time of 16.32 while Alem Gerezhare also from Ethiopia was third a further five seconds adrift. Yami Gurmu Belinesh was the third Ethiopian runner with a time of 16.41 minutes, while England’s Emily Waugh finished fifth with a time of 17.07 minutes.
10km: 1. Alia Mohammad Saeed (UAE; 35.05 minutes); 2. Ifa Megertu (Ethiopia; 35.06); 3. Aregawe Birhane (Ethiopia; 37.26); 4. Aline Schmitz (France; 40.35); 5. Katy Hallside (Scotland; 41.22).
5 km: 1. Zenebu Checkole (Ethiopia; 16.29 minutes); 2. Olivera Jevtic (Serbia; 16.32); 3. Alem Gerezhare (Ethiopia; 16.37); 4. Yami Gurmu Belinesh (Ethiopia; 16.41); 5. Emily Waugh (England; 17.07)