Dubai Marathon
Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The tale of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon winners is one of pain and joy. Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa, who emerged as the victor in the women’s category, had to withstand back pain during the race but her determination to record a double triumph here, after finishing second last year, won the title that she had won in 2017 again.

Talking about her painful run to victory, clocking 2:19.37, to lead the Ethiopian sweep in the women’s race, Degefa said: “My back pain problem started a week before I came here. During the run at the 25km mark I felt the pain return but I was leading. The lead helped me. If you are in the front you get the energy to continue. Maybe if I was behind someone it may not have helped but being in the front helped me to win.”

Degefa admitted the pain slowed her down and she was also disappointed that her pacemaker dropped out when she needed him.

“I was asking my pacemaker to push for more. I wished he continued running until 35km. It was a disappointing when he dropped but in a way I feel now happy that he dropped out as he did not go by timing plan. I had a better timing in my mind but the main thing I managed to win it and so I am happy.”

The joy of the men’s winner and debutant Ethiopia’s Olika Adugna Bikila had no bounds. “The biggest surprise was that I won it,” he said. “For a debutant any timing is fine. I am delighted that I could do it in my debut race. I am very happy to start my marathon with a win and that is a big jump for me.”

Talking about how he pushed hard and move away from the bunch and reach the finish line, Bikila said: “Before I began this run many told me that from 35km is the toughest but when I reached the 35km my body felt so fresh. Even in the 40km mark my legs were fine and hence I pushed hard.”

The push by Bikila and Degefa’s determination withstanding the pain made both richer by $100,000 (Dh367,256).