FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dubai Marathon Women's Race
Dubai, Thursday, January 21, 1000gmt
Ethiopians look like winning the jackpot for the third year running, in the
Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon tomorrow (Friday). Haile Gebrselassie is
the firm favourite to rack up a hat trick of victories; and the women's
winner is almost certain to be a compatriot for the third successive year.
Equally likely, the women's winner will be doing the trick for the second
time, since outstanding favourites, Bezunesh Bekele and Askale Magarsa have
both won here, Bezunesh last year, and Askale two years ago. We might have
had a third winner, their better known colleague Berhane Adere, who won in
2008, but she cried off a few days ago, having failed to satisfy herself
that she was fit enough.
The prospect of seeing her national record, 2.20.42 being broken might have
been an additional factor, because unusually for the normally reticent East
Africans, both Bezunesh and Askale were right upfront about their ambitions
to join the exclusive women's sub-2.20 club.
That numbers just nine women so far, with Askale right on the verge with
her 2.21.31 in Berlin 18 months ago, and Bezunesh a little further out, but
with her 2.23.09 all the more impressive since it was in her debut, here
two years ago, second to Berhane.
Askale's form plumetted after a bad hip injury, and she had to drop out of
Berlin just over three months ago, but after a month jogging and swimming,
she's so confident that she had asked to be paced to the halfway in 70mins,
ie 2.20 pace.
"Even when I ran 2.21 in Berlin in 2008, I was having pains in my right
leg," she said today (Thursday), relying on husband (and pacemaker) Debele
Tola to fill any gaps in her English. "But when I dropped out of Berlin
last time, the pain was even worse, like a stress fracture. It was always
in the right leg, but then I had problems in the left, through
"But I feel very confident now, my ambition is to run a personal best here,
I feel in 2.20 shape, provided the weather is good. Dubai is a perfect
course, but it does depend on the weather".
Debele chipped in, "She has much more potential than she has shown so far.
I think she can run 2.16, or better, maybe even a world record (2.15.25, by
"My ambition is to run a personal best here," responded Askale," then a
personal best in Berlin, I like both courses".
The dimunitive Bezunesh, one metre 48, less than five feet tall, and
weighing in a 38k (84lbs) will not be easy to dislodge from the top spot on
the rostrum. She beat Askale into third place two years ago, and stormed
through last year's downpour in the final stages to win in 2.24.02.
"The marathon distance is very difficult," she said this morning
(Thursday), it's not like 10k, or even 20k. But I have worked towards
winning here. I'd like to run 2.20, but I'd prefer to do it gradually,
2.22, 2.21, 2.20, I think it's better that way".
She and husband Tessma Absero (2.08.26 in Hamburg08) built a house with the
$250,000 she won here last year. Pausing only to ask, "Why, do you need
some?" when your intrepid reporter asked what she was going to do with the
quarter million if she won again, she continued, "I'm not thinking of the
money, I'm thinking of the race".
And, with a 06.30 start (02.30gmt) and a forecast of 20C (68F), the race
looks to be stacking up very nicely.