Dubai: The man tipped by many as one of the brightest prospects in African distance running will be aiming to become the third consecutive debut winner from Ethiopia when the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon gets under way on January 24, 2014.
Atsedu Tsegay is a 22-year-old marathon debutant looking to follow in the footsteps of 2012 winner Ayele Abshero (2:04:23) and 2013 champion Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45), who both produced stunning times to win on their first marathon appearances on the international stage.
Both Abshero and Desisa arrived in Dubai as relative unknowns but, after posting world-class times in the world’s richest running event, they returned to Ethiopia with their names firmly established in marathon history.
There are indications that Tsegay might indeed be the next great talent to emerge from Ethiopia despite a year away from the running scene recovering from an ankle injury.
In mid-December, he won the New Delhi Half Marathon, which featured an elite field. Tsegay clocked 59m:12s to break the course record by three seconds and show that he has fully recovered from an ankle injury, which kept him out of competition for almost 12 months.
His half-marathon personal best also suggests high potential, having run 58m:47s in Prague in 2012, not only a course record but also helping him supplant the legendary three-time Dubai winner Haile Gebrselassie as the Ethiopian record holder.
“We have certainly witnessed some stunning marathon debuts here in Dubai and there is every reason to suggest we may see another first-timer win in 2014,” said event director Peter Connerton.
“The course will once again be particularly benign for both elite and regular runners, so we expect some quick times in three weeks’ time. However, the marathon is a punishing event and even the greatest runners can come unstuck on the day. But Atsedu comes to Dubai with a growing reputation and we look forward to seeing how he handles the step up the ranks to the classic 42.195-km distance.”
With entrant numbers already up on this time last year, organisers are expecting a new record turnout for the event. It will start and finish on the Umm Suqeim Road close to the Dubai Police Academy and take in the entire length of the Jumeirah Beach Road, passing through the shadows of the iconic Burj Al Arab and Madinat properties.
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, Adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police, the RTA and Dubai Municipality.
Runners looking to register for the marathon as well as the popular 10-km men and women’s event and the 3-km fun run may do so at the official website www.dubaimarathon.org.