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Ethiopia’s Dera Dida, winner of the 2023 Dubai Marathon, will lead the women’s elite field when she returns for her title defence in Dubai on January 7. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Less than 10 months after winning the 2023 Dubai Marathon, Ethiopian star Dera Dida has confirmed she will return to the UAE to defend her Dubai crown on January 7.

Earlier this year, Dida — wife of former Dubai Marathon winner and Marathon World Champion Tamirat Tola — stormed through with two kilometres remaining to take the women’s event in 2h:21:11 at Expo City Dubai, while her brother-in-law Abdisa Tola made it a unique family double by clinching the men’s title.

But while Abdisa misses out on a Dubai title defence through injury, fellow adidas runner Dera Dida will be back on the start line on January 7 as she bids for a second successive title in the UAE, this time over the fast and flat roads around the iconic Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Road area.

Familiar ground

It’s familiar ground for Dida who competed over the route in both 2018 and 2020 finishing seventh and fifth respectively. It is the first time since 2020 the event will be back at what has long been seen as its natural “home” and Dida will start as firm favourite following one of the most successful years of her running career.

In 2023, she recorded personal bests at both 10,000m and Half Marathon, while seven months after winning in Dubai, the 27-year-old Ethiopian lowered her marathon personal best to 2:19:24 in Berlin and is looking forward to maintaining her upward momentum over the classic distance.

“When I took the lead in Dubai, I was sure I’d win,” said Dida, a two-time Ethiopian National Champion at 5,000 and 10,000m and a two-time World Cross Country Championship silver medallist. “It was a wonderful race and, of course, it was very emotional when I realised Abdisa had also won.”

Remarkable achievement

Dubai Marathon race director Peter Connerton added: “It is always a great pleasure to welcome back our former champions. To have two family members win was a remarkable achievement and we are delighted to have Dera Dida return to Dubai for the first big international marathon of the new calendar year.”

Runners who would like to follow the elites and who have still not registered for the three-race event, can sign up for the Marathon, the 10km and the 4km Fun Run at