Dubai: Marathon World Champion Tamirat Tola will be a proud man today, not for his own athletic achievements, but for those of his wife Dera and brother Abdisa who won the men and women’s titles at the 2023 Dubai Marathon.
Abdisa Tola was making his marathon debut, while Dera Dida hadn’t competed for three years, partly down to the pandemic but largely due to giving birth to daughter Fenant almost two years ago.
Two of her three previous marathons had been in Dubai, with her best being seventh in 2:21:45, in an ultra-fast race in 2018. But in a more tactical affair yesterday, where she was led for long periods by her colleague Ruti Aga, Dida proved the shrewder, taking the initiative two kilometres from the finish and running out winner in a personal best 2:21:11. Aga was a dozen seconds behind in second with Siranesh Yirga third in 2:21:59.
“When I took the lead, I was sure I would win,” said 26-year-old Dida. “It was a wonderful race and of course it was very emotional when I realised that Abdisa had won as well.”
Brother-in-law Abdisa Tola ran equally confidently, the more so since it was his marathon debut. But he added a touch of drama he could have done without when he went off course with three kilometres to run, just after making a decisive effort to get away from two colleagues.
It was only a brief diversion, but he had to settle back behind Haymanot Alew and Deresa Gelete as they tried to get away from him in turn.
But he was more than equal to their pace, and after waiting another kilometre, he struck for home in a similar fashion to Dera, ultimately winning in 2:05:42, for the fifth win by a debutant in the last ten editions of the Dubai Marathon. Gelete was second in 2:05:51, with Alew third in 2:05:58.
“The pacemakers did a great job, they really helped me,” said a delighted Tola who, like his sister-in-law, collected a winner’s cheque for US$80,000. “There was strong competition, but I was very well prepared.”
Staged in a new venue at Expo City Dubai, the 22nd edition of the Middle East’s oldest marathon boasted near perfect weather with a temperature of 13C (55F) for the 6am start, rising to no more than 18C (65F) at the finish of the women’s race.
In the wheelchair event, there was another triumph in a major marathon for Marcel Hug. The Swiss “Silver Bullet” took the event in 1:23:50 while Eden Rainbow-Cooper of Great Britain won the women’s race in 1:47:15.
All of the winners received their trophies from Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, Salah Talak, Joint Chief Operating Officer Dubai Duty Free and Ahmad Al Kamali, General Co-ordinator of the Dubai Marathon.
Results – Dubai Marathon 2023
1. Abdisa Tola (ETH) 2:05:42
2. Deresa Gelete (ETH) 2:05:51
3. Haymanot Alew (ETH) 2:05:57
1. Dera Dida (ETH) 2:21:11
2. Ruti Aga (ETH) 2:21:24
3. Siranesh Yirga (ETH) 2:21:59