A debutant won the Standard Chartered Dubai title for the third consecutive occasion in this IAAF Gold Label Race as marathon novices maintained their domination in Dubai. Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen continued this impressive sequence as the 18 year-old sprang a surprise, running 2:04:32 in his first marathon.
This achievement improved the unofficial World Junior Record by almost two minutes; also unprecedented was a sub-2:06 performance by an 18-year-old, let alone breaking 2:05. There was much pre-race talk about the possibility of another debutant winner. But the athlete in this context was not Tsegaye Mekonnen. It was Atsedu Tsegay, who had recently impressed with a half marathon victory in New Delhi and was targeting a sub 2:05 time. Dubai is known to produce surprises, and it was no different on Friday. While Tsegay did not finish his debut, fellow-Ethiopian Tsegaye Mekonnen stormed to victory, upsetting the experienced marathon runners as well. The second and third placed athletes also achieved world-class times of sub 2:06: Markos Geneti ran 2:05:13, followed by fellow-Ethiopian Girmay Birhanu in 2:05:49.
As expected the women’s race was dominated by the Ethiopians as well, claiming the top nine places. Suprisingly Mula Seboka beat favourites Meselech Melkamu and Meseret Hailu. 29 year-old Seboka ran 2:25:01 and collected the same winner’s prize as the men’s champion, 200,000 Dollar. Melkamu followed in second place with 2:25:23 and Firehiwot Dado ran2:25:53. Hailu was fourth in 2:26:20.
The men’s race began very fast with split times that were well inside the world record of 2:03:23 established by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang in Berlin in2013. A big group of a round 20 athletes passed 10 k in 29:14 and then reached the half way mark in 61:37. However at that stage the pace had already dropped to around 2:58 to 3:00 per kilometre. This was not fast enough for Kipsang’s world record which soon was out of reach.
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