The stage is set for the 19th edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon to be held on Friday with elite runners from around the world arriving here and gearing up for the race.
A flat and fast route with a slight change from the last year featuring two loops on the Jumeirah road awaits the runners. Starting at 6am instead of the normal 7am slot for previous editions, the athletes will set off from Umm Suqeim Road at the Madinat Jumeirah end and finish just before the Dubai Police Academy.
With Ethiopian runners recording a clean sweep of the men and women races, the big question is whether their domination can be shattered this time by a runner from another country. Last year’s men’s champion Tamirat Tola, who set a new course record of 2h:04m:11s, and defending women’s champion Worknesh Degefa have returned to defend their titles.
Speaking to Gulf News, Tola revealed that the tips and motivation from his compatriot and legendary runner Haile Gebrselassie may help him to win the race again. “I keep talking to Gebrselassie and he has told me that even in training make sure to run below 2h:08m so that on the race day I can record a good time. I have trained very hard this time.
“Having made my mark as a half-marathon runner (winning in Prague Half Marathon 2017) and a 10,000-metre runner (winning the Olympic bronze medal in 2016 10,000-metre final) I run the first half very fast and hence the second half is a bit tough but if I can put in a good effort in the last kilometre then I can return as the winner again.”
Women’s runner Degefa is equally confident. “Last year was my first attempt so this time I know the course better. There are some very good runners but I have prepared very well for this race,” said Degefa, whose winning marathon debut of 2h:22m:36s is Dubai Marathon’s fourth fastest time in the women’s event.
Tola will face a strong challenge from compatriot Endeshaw Negesse, Sisay Leema, Girmay Birhanu and Kenya’s Ronald Korir. Degefa will have to also overcome the strong challenge from her compatriot Aselefech Mergia, who is a three-time winner and current course record holder of the Dubai Marathon. Mergia, who celebrated her 33rd birthday on Tuesday, said: “The 2015 Dubai Marathon win was my best among the three. I hope I can repeat the performance though the field is really tough.”
Dubai Marathon, which has the reputation of the biggest mass participating sporting event, will see over 30,000 runners participating in the race.
Standard Chartered Bank has sponsored the Dubai Marathon for the 14th time due to its mass appeal. “We are very excited at the Dubai Marathon’s popularity and its substantial growth over these years. On a global front we support nine marathons in Asia, Africa and Middle East and Dubai Marathon has always attracted the best and the greatest. It is undoubtedly the best social and sporting event,” remarked Julian Wynter, CEO for Standard Chartered Bank.
The event has attracted entries from 154 different nationalities.
6am: Marathon Elites
7am: Marathon Masses
9am: 10km Road Race
5.55am: Wheelchair Marathon Elites
11am: 4km Fun Run
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