Tola, Degefa return to defend Dubai Marathon titles
Rashed Al Kamali, Ahmed Al Kamali, Worknesh Degefa, Peter Connerton, Julian Wynter, Tamirat Tola, Saeed Hareb, Paula Radcliffe and Aselefech Mergia at the announcement of the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
Dubai - This is the 19th staging of the Middle East's biggest mass participation sporting event and Ahmed Al Kamali is proud in saying that "it can only get bigger"
By Clareto Monsorate
Published: Wed 24 Jan 2018, 5:37 PM
Last updated: Wed 24 Jan 2018, 7:42 PM
Last year on the eve of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon there was a lot of hype surrounding Kenenisa Bekele. The world and Olympic record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres was fresh from winning the 2016 Berlin Marathon. And, with not many big names in the fray, the Ethiopian was tipped to break the course record and the world record of 2:02:57 set by Kenya's Dennis Kimetoo.
Unfortunately for the organisers - who were looking for a record time - and the many fans who turned up, Bekele flattered to deceive. He fell to the ground at the start after being tripped, found himself back down the field midway through the race, and eventually dropped out by the 23km mark clutching his calf.
With all the attention focused on Bekele, from nowhere another Ethiopian by the name of Tamirat Tola slowly wriggled his way out of the bunch and into the limelight after setting the course record by 12 seconds. Tola clocked 2h:04m:11s - currently the tenth fastest marathon time in history.
This year, it's not Bekele but the wiry runner, who is the centre of attraction. Tola has returned to Dubai to defend his title at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday (January 26). Having finished second in the World Championships in London in August, the 26-year-old will be aiming to see off the challenge of the likes of 2015 Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse and half-marathon specialist Mosinet Geremew, both also from Ethiopia.
In the women's line-up, 2017 winner Worknesh Degefa may hold the champion's bragging rights but she is only the fourth fastest in the field with three-time Dubai winner and former London Marathon champion Aselefech Mergia and ex-world champion and Oympic bronze medalist Mare Dibaba just two of the big guns ahead of her in the table of personal bests.
This is the 19th staging of the Middle East's biggest mass participation sporting event and Ahmed Al Kamali was proud in saying that "it can only get bigger".
"It's a huge occasion for the city and one that relies on the welcome support of the authorities," said UAE Athletics Federation President Ahmed Al Kamali.
"Thanks to the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Primer Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the event continues to make great strides both as a sporting event and as a showcase for the city."
It is also the 14th successive year that Standard Chartered are the title sponsors.
"The 2018 race will be the 14th successive year of the Bank being title sponsors of this mega event and we are very excited as its popularity has grown substantially over these years," said Julian Wynter, CEO for Standard Chartered Bank, UAE.
"It's an incredible partnership that we look forward to developing year after year. It is closely aligned to our efforts in promoting healthy living among our staff and the community at large."
Final last-minute entries for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and the associated 10km and 4km can be made online at www.dubaimarathon.org or in person at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel Conference Centre on Thursday (January 25) between 9am and 5pm only. - firstname.lastname@example.org