Dubai: There was a double celebration on Ethiopian Christmas Day as debut runners Tigist Ketema and Addisu Gobena wrapped up the elite titles in superb style at the 23rd Dubai Marathon.
Staged under the auspices of the Dubai Sports Council, Ketema clocked an unofficial women’s world record debut, finishing in a fantastic 2:16:07.
For the 25-year-old Ketema, it was a surprise result as she had initial reservations about shifting her focus to the classic 42.195km distance from being a 1,500-metre runner.
“I was quite afraid of the distance before I ran my first marathon but now, I wonder why,” she smiled after receiving the trophy from Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.
Running on Dubai’s renowned super flat course that mainly stretches on Jumeirah Beach Road, the 25-year-old Ethiopian marked her first-ever marathon by becoming the eighth fastest woman in marathon history. She also smashed the Dubai course record, improving the mark by 61 seconds.
In benign weather conditions, fellow-Ethiopians Ruti Aga and defending champion Dera Dida took second and third places with 2:18:09 and 2:19:29 respectively. Fourth placed German Melat Kejeta ran 2:21:47 and qualified for the Olympic Games.
“We’re very happy to see the Dubai Marathon growing steadily and the record in the women’s race makes it even better,” Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, told Gulf News. “I am even more elated to see such huge number of participation from the community. It is exciting to see the families, along with their kids, running though the streets of Jumierah, which is historic from them and for us.”
Chinese sweep wheelchair division
Teenager Gobena also stormed to victory with the 19-year-old Ethiopian junior clocking 2:05:01 ahead of fellow Ethiopians Lemi Dumecha and Dejene Megersa, another debutant, in second and third spots with 2:05:20 and 2:05:42. Fifth-placed Samuel Fitwi, representing Germany, smashed his personal best and qualified for the Paris Olympic Games with 2:06:27.
In the wheelchair division, it was a Chinese complete sweep with Jin Hua and Tian Yajuan taking the men and women’s titles in 1:27:08 and 1:39:39 respectively. In all, around 12,000 runners took to the flat streets with races across the marathon, 10km and 4km distances.