Dubai: Worknesh Degefa, the reigning Boston Marathon champion and 2018 Hamburg and Mumbai winner, leads the elite runners that will take part in the 21st edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday. The Ethiopian, who is bubbling with confidence after her Boston Marathon title triumph, announced at a news conference held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel that she has arrived to win the women’s title, which she narrowly missed out last time after finishing second here.
Fellow Ethiopian Soloman Deksisa, the 2018 Hamburg and Mumbai marathon winner, leads the elite men runners. He announced that he not only wants to win the Dubai Marathon but also win a place in the Ethiopian team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Degefa, who is also the winner of the 2017 Dubai Marathon, said: “I have been working hard for the last four months to win here. I always want to improve as a runner and better my timing. I have put in a lot of effort this time. I also love to run here because I love the weather and the flat track. I have always got good timing here.”
When Degefa won in 2017, her time was only 2.22:36 and even though she finished only fourth in here in 2018, she bettered her time to 2.19:53. In 2019, she finished second to Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich by recording a time of 2.17:41.
Deksisa, who will make his debut in the Dubai Marathon on Friday, is carrying the confidence of having finished second in Amsterdam Marathon with a time of 2.05:16 and said: “I am here to win and if do I may win a place in the Olympic team.”
Deksisa, who recorded his personal best of 2.04:40 in the 2018 Amsterdam Marathon, also spoke about his debut here. “I wanted to run here before but since I was running in different marathons I could not make it. If my pacemakers can do a good job I think I can post my best.”
Another star debutant will be Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui, whose personal best of 58.42 makes him the fastest half-marathon runner ever to take part in the Dubai Marathon.
The Dubai Marathon has always received huge sponsorship support. Standard Chartered is the title sponsor for the 17th year while Dubai Holding has been supporting the event for 12 consecutive years.
Event Director Peter Connerton, who is hoping that Dubai Marathon registers another new mark this year, said: “It is not about the race alone, it is about promoting the city of Dubai in a big way too. There will be over 30,000 runners across all events and the course starting from Jumeirah is fantastic with Burj Al Arab in the background. We want more people to come on to the street and cheer the runners.”
The Dubai Marathon will start off with the wheelchair race at 5.55am. Defending champions Marcel Hug and Sandra Graf were at the news conference. Hug, hoping to win again, said: “I have trained well and looking forward to a good performance. Competition is getting stronger and since this race is early in the season I would not know how strong the other competitors will be.”
Graf wants to go for the Tokyo Olympics with a better timing and said: “I am looking forward for a good time and if I get it I will go to Tokyo. Dubai has got a nice flat and fast course so I enjoy here.”
5.55am: Wheelchair Marathon
7am: Marathon masses
8.15am: 10km Road Race
11am: 4km Fun Run
Men and women
Dubai marathon course record
Men: Getaneh Molla (Ethiopia) 2.03:34 in 2019
Women: Ruth Chepngetich (Kenya) 2.17:08 in 2019