FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Preview
The marathon world came face to face with mortality recently, when Haile
Gebrselassie announced his retirement. That was soon rescinded. But after
three consecutive (and rapid) victories in the Standard Chartered Dubai
Marathon, the old master leaves the 'world's richest marathon' this coming
Friday (21) open to a posse of young pretenders to his crown.
With first place (men and women) paying a quarter of a million dollars, and
a cool million for a world record, there is no shortage of takers to follow
the Ethiopian onto the list of Dubai winners, if not the world record
Fittingly, there are six sub-2.07 men, with another ten who have broken
2.10; but the youngster who tops that list might just be the man to beat.
An 'unknown' East African winning a marathon in a fast time is hardly news
nowadays. But Eliud Kiptanui's 2.05.39 victory in Prague last May was, as
they say, a bit special.
The 20 year old had won a marathon at home, in hot and humid conditions
four months earlier, in 2.12.34. But on a Prague course not noted for its
rapidity, due to stretches of cobblestones, Kiptanui made all the running,
with a second half faster than the first, and took two minutes off the
course record, with the 17th fastest in history.
His second European marathon was not so successful, but a fifth place in
Berlin four months later, in 2.08.05 (a world record two decades earlier)
could hardly be called a failure for a young man learning his trade.
But his run in Fukuoka just over two months later created another
sensation. Engaged as a mid-race pacemaker, Kiptanui was told, contrary to
his wishes, that he could not finish the race. But when the previous
pacemaker was slower than intended, Kiptanui took off and covered the next
five kilometres a minute faster than required. Cue consternation!
So much so that, even though he slowed over the next 10k, an official stood
in front of him with a red flag at 30k, to ensure he didn't forget to drop
Kiptanui's manager Volker Wagner explains, "He was too impatient, too
strong, he put in too much effort. He slowed down, but it was too late,
only the winner (Jaouad Gharib) could follow him; the meet director was
"But he's in good shape for Dubai. There's no pressure, no appearance
money, and he can do whatever he wants. He wants to go for the world record
at some point, but maybe not this time; just run the course, see what it's
like, and prepare for next year".
Chala Dechase and Eshetu Wendimu have already had that induction, in
finishing second and third to their illustrious compatriot last year. And
giving him quite a scare in the process. First Chala caught Geb at 33k,
then Eshetu joined them shortly afterwards, and for eight kilometres, they
traded strides with the world record holder before he eased away to
But Chala's 2.06.33 and Eshetu's 2.06.46 are more than adequate
preparation. And if Evans Cheruiyot has finally got over the injuries which
have hampered him since his Chicago 2008 win, in a personal best 2.06.05,
then he too should figure.
Add to the mix, Deressa Chimsa (2.07.54), Sammy Mugo (2.08.20), Dejene
Yordaw (2.08.30), Muguleta Wami (2.08.32), David Kemboi (2.08.34), Dereje
Tesfaye (2.08.36), Laban Kipkemboi (2.08.38), and that's a recipe for a
burn-up. And while Gert Thys at 39 may not be the force he was when he ran
2.06.33, the South African showed all his tenacity in finishing second in a
rain-swept Beijing Marathon last October.
Former winners, Berhane Adere and Askale Magarsa of Ethiopia lead the
women's contenders for victory (and $250.000). But Helena Kirop, third last
year, and record breaking winner in Prague four months later is just as
likely as Kiptanui to make it a double double for the pair of young
But she will have to contend with a half dozen fast Ethiopians, since in
addition to Berhane (2.20.42) and Askale (2.21.31), there is also Atsede
Baysa (2.22.02), Aselefech Mergia (2.22.38), Koren Yelela (2.24.33), and
Roba Guta, just two seconds slower.
There will be more than 14,000 competitors in the three events on Friday
morning, the marathon, 10k and 3k Fun Run.