Aselefech Mergia, from Ethiopia, 1st from Women followed by the 2nd Lucy Kabuu from Kenya, during the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathhon 2012 in Down Town Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Some of the world’s best women runners will compete in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, set to get under way from Emaar Boulevard on January 25.

Eleven months ago, the athletics world was stunned when the top three women’s runners in Dubai crossed the line in under two hours and 20 minutes. It was the first time in marathon history that three women had broken the mark in the same race.

With a star-studded field of elite women coming together for the 14th staging of the Middle East’s only IAAF Gold Label Marathon, event organisers are confident of yet another closely run race and the crowning of a new champion.

With 2011 and 2012 Dubai winner Asselefech Medessa missing from the line-up through injury, the fastest woman in the field will be 2012 Paris Marathon Champion Tirfi Tsegaye, from Ethiopia, who has produced two outstanding performances over the past 12 months.

In April, the 28 year-old won the Paris Marathon in 2:21:40, while further improvement followed in Berlin in September when she duelled with compatriot Aberu Kebede until 35km, finishing runner-up and improving her personal best to 2:21:19.

“Last year we saw three women break 2:20 in Dubai, and Tirfi’s recent performances suggest she is highly capable of joining that elite group,” said Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Event Director, Peter Connerton.

“None of the three ladies who broke 2:20 in 2012 had run sub-2:20 before they raced in Dubai, so there is no reason why it can’t be done again. In terms of women’s running, Dubai has the fourth fastest course record/time in Marathon history behind London, Chicago and Berlin, so we know we have one of the fastest routes in the world.”

Joining Tsegaye in a powerful women’s field will be fellow Ethiopian and running partner Koren Jelela, who boasts a personal best of 2:22:43 from victory at the Toronto Marathon in 2011, and Kenyan-born Swede Isabellah Andersson, who clocked her own personal best of 2:23:41 when finishing third in Dubai in 2011.

The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is likely to attract some 20,000 runners for the main event, the 10km and the 3km fun run, with the start and finish on Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai, in the shadow of the iconic Burj Khalifa.

Visit www.dubaimarathon.org for more details.