Dubai all set for a Marathon day
A field of 28 men's elite athletes and 17 women's elite athletes will take to the start for the race
The enduring image of Getaneh Molla breasting the finish tape adorns the variety of paraphernalia ahead of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. The Ethiopian set a new course record 12 months ago, while Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich smashed the mark in the women's segment.
Both do not feature in the field this time but it doesn't take anything away from this 21st edition of the event which takes place on Friday.
One of Dubai's landmark events - the Dubai Marathon - as has been the case, has attracted a stellar field once again with the cream of marathon runners set to pace themselves to glory.
A field of 28 men's elite athletes and 17 women's elite athletes will take to the start for the race, which is an IAAF Road Race Gold Label event.
And it goes without saying that there will be a new champion in both the segments and perhaps, new course records to boot, with the course remaining the same.
Headlining the field are the Ethiopian pair of Soloman Deksisa and Worknesh Degefa in a contingent that has a whopping 35 international victories between them.
Degefa had won the 2017 edition with a time of two hours, 22 minutes and 36 seconds. The 29-year-old will be eyeing a second Dubai victory after finishing second to Chepngetich last year. Degefa, the fastest Ethiopian female marathon runner of all-time, has a personal best of 2:17.41 seconds, set in Dubai last year. That timing was the fifth fastest marathon time ever run by a woman.
Degefa, who had finished fourth in 2018, heads into Dubai following a scintillating win at the Boston Marathon in April last year.
Degefa willl be up against compatriot Bezunesh Deba, a former Boston Marathon champion as well as rising star Bedatu Hirpa, also from Ethiopia. Hirpa had made her mark in winning the Athens Marathon in 2017 as an 18-year-old.
Meanwhile, Deksisa, who has a personal best of two hours, four minutes and 40 seconds, set while finishing third in Amsterdam two years ago, will be making his Dubai debut.
The 25-year-old will be aiming for a third victory following back-to-back wins in Hamburg and Mumbai two years ago.
There are five other who will be making their Dubai bow with Kenya's Eric Kiptanui heading that list. The 29-year-old is the fastest half marathon runner of all time with a personal best of 58.42 seconds and such credentials would be needed if he hopes to put an end to the Ethiopian supremacy. The Ethiopian runners have dominated the men's field for eight years.
The elite fields will take to the roads at 6 a.m with the masses off an hour later at 7 a.m. The honour of getting the day's action underway falls to a stellar international field of wheelchair athletes. Among those starting a battle royale at 5.55am will be the defending champions Marcel Hug and Sandra Graf of Switzerland.
The 10km Road Race starts at 8.15am, while the 4km Fun Run is at 11am.
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