Dubai Marathon 2023: History repeats as Ethiopian runners take top spots; new mother wins women's race

Tola Adera and Dida Yami make it a family triumph at Expo City Dubai


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Published: Sun 12 Feb 2023, 10:13 PM

Dera Dida Yami did not need to remind herself that she was in Dubai for a reason and that what she was doing was special.

Less than a year ago the Ethiopian athlete had given birth to a baby boy, and even though she had to request her family to help as babysitters while she was away, her goal was not just to run in the Dubai Marathon, but to win it.

"You can do this," she told herself and she did, dominating a strong women’s field to cross the finish line in a time of 2 hours 21.11 minutes.

As she crossed the finish line at Expo City Dubai’s spectacular Al Wasl Dome,.she caught her breath, breathed a sigh of relief, and looked around for Abdisa Tola Adera.

Less than 15 minutes earlier Abdisa had chested the tape to win the men’s category after completing the gruelling 42.195 km course in 2 hours 05.42 minutes.

Together, Abdisa and Dera Dida anchored an Ethiopian sweep of the top ten places in the 22nd running of the Middle East region’s most famous road race, an event that dates back to 1998.

There were emotional scenes at the finish line as Abdisa and Dera Dida, proudly draped in the colourful Ethiopian flag, hugged each other and held back tears of joy. This was a special moment for them as they were from the same family.

Abdisa’s brother, world champion Tamirat Tola, is the husband of Dera Dida.

The younger brother of world champion Tamirat, Abdisa was making history of his own as this was the first time that he had contested a full marathon, having previously only run half marathons.

Taking second place in a time of 2 hours 05.51 was Deresa Geleta while Haymanot Alew Engdayehu was a close third in 02:05:57

“I prepared well for this race and that’s what helped me win,” said Abdisa. “The conditions were good but it was a bit humid. But I was prepared and left the rest to God.”

Dera Dida has never run faster than 2:21.45 or finished higher than fifth and was elated with the victory, which she dedicated to her son back home in Ethiopia.

“It was a wonderful race, very competitive, but I came here to win,” she said. “It was a very tactical race, but God helped me.

“I was very confident that I could win and this positive attitude helped me.”

Britain’s Eden Rainbow-Cooper, a silver medallist at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, won the women’s wheelchair marathon (T54) ahead of Swiss Paralympic athlete Patricia Eachus, while Sri Lankan-born Swiss marathoner Alexandra Helbling was third.

Helbling was adopted by a Swiss family when she was only three weeks old but as fate would have it, she suffered paraplegia in a car accident when she was six and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Michael Hug of Switzerland, the six-time Paralympic champion, won the men’s wheelchair race in a time of 1:23.50. Dutch para athlete Jetze Plat was second in 1:24.28 while South Africa’s Tiaan Bosch finished third in 1:49.38.


Dubai Marathon (Distance 42.195km)


Abdisa Tola Adera (ETH) 02:05:42

Deresa Geleta Ulfata (ETH) 02:05:51

Haymanot Alew Engdayehu (ETH) 02:05:57

Gebretsadik Abraha Adihana (ETH) 02:06:08

Abraraw Misgenaw Tegegne (ETH) 02:06:39


Dera Dida Yami (ETH) – 02:21:11

Ruti Aga Sora (ETH) – 02:21:24

Siranesh Yirga Dagne (ETH) – 02:21:59

Fikrte Wereta Admasu (ETH) – 02:22:50

Tigst Getnet Belew (ETH) – 02:23:17

Wheelchair Men

Marcel Hug (SUI) 1:23.50

Jetze Plat (NED) 1:24.28

Tiaan Bosch (RSA) 1:49.48

Wheelchair Women

Eden Rainbow-Cooper (GBR)

Patricia Eachus (SUI)

Alexandra Helbling (SUI)


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