FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Report
Ayele Abshero and his Ethiopan colleagues turned the marathon tide
substantially this morning, Friday, in a Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon
which rewrote the record books.
Abshero, just past 21, ran the fastest winning debut in history, taking the
title in an event record time of 2.04.23, which also makes him the fourth
fastest man ever.
The former world junior cross country champion (2009), also established
himself as a leading contender for Ethiopia's Olympic trio, if not victory
at London 2012. Abshero headed an Ethiopian 1-2-3, with Dino Sefir second
in 2.04.50, and Markos Geneti third in 2.04.54, both personal bests.
The Kenyans who carried all before them last year in the marathon world
were firmly rebuffed. Jonathon Maiyo placed fourth, in 2.04.56, but he was
the only non-Ethiopian in the top ten, most of whom set personal bests.
Pre-race favourite Martin Lel dropped off the lead group before 30k, but
soldiered on to finish 35th in 2.34.57. Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa,
looking to make his fifth Olympic team, finished 19th in 2.12.12.
A relatively sedate start, followed by gradual acceleration in temperate
conditions ensured that a large group of over 30 men reached halfway in
62.22. That group was only whittled down well past 30k, and with the top
five finishers relaying the lead until Abshero made his break close to 40k
fast times all round were the order of the day.
There were perfect conditions for marathon running in the Gulf state, with
temperatures of 12C (55F) at the 7am start, only rising a couple of degrees
by the women's finish shortly before 9.20am. Underlining the quality of the
fields and temperate weather with no wind, not to mention the million
dollar prize pot, 14 men went under 2.08, and nine women under 2.25.
Abshero, whose most notable feat apart from his world junior cross victory
was beating (a less than fully fit) Kenenisa Bekele in a 15k road race
three years ago, maintained that his finishing time was his target. "I
thought I could run 2.04 today," he said at the press conference, "but it's
hard to plan for your first marathon, really I just didn't know what was
going to happen. But I'm very happy. I'm now the number one in Ethiopia,
and I think it could be the Olympic Games for me".
Abshero is only headed historically by the Kenyans, Patrick Makau, with his
world record 2.03.38, and Wilson Kipsang, 2.03.42, and his illustrious
colleague Haile Gebrselassie, 2.03.59. But breaking Haile's Dubai course
record by 30 seconds ensured further cachet for the youngster.
It was an Ethiopian red letter day all round, with Asefelech Mergia
defending her Dubai title, running a national and course record, with a
personal best of 2.19.31, finishing just ahead of Kenyan debutante, Lucy
(Wangui) Kabuu, who was three seconds adrift. Again Ethiopians dominated,
with Mare Dibaba third in a personal best 2.19.52, and six in the first
While the men's leaders ran a negative split – the second half faster than
the first – the women's pace was fairly even. A group of nine went though
the 'half' in 69.42. Again it was the Ethiopians who fared better in the
second half of the race, with last year's second Lydia Cheromei of Kenya
dropping back to finish fifth, albeit in a personal best.
The three seconds difference at the end can probably be explained by Mergia
being defending champion and Kabuu being a debutante, something that the
Ethiopian hinted at afterwards.
"I know the course, so I felt confident. I prepared well and I'm delighted
with 2.19. I'm now the best Ethiopian, and with a time like that, I hope to
be selected for the Olympic Games".
Mergia also won the world's biggest marathon prize of $250,000 (women and
men) for the second year in succession, and got the upper hand in the first
international marathon where three women went under 2.20. All in all,
another marathon day to remember.
Pos/bib Name Country Time Prize/US$
1 8 Ayele ABSHERO ETH 2.04.23 250k
2 19 Dino SEFIR ETH 2.04.50 100K
3 12 Markos GENETI ETH 2.04.54 50K
4 6 Jonathon MAIYO KEN 2.04.56 25K
5 10 Tadese TOLA ETH 2.05.10 15K
6 36 Yami DADI ETH 2.05.41 14K
7 18 Abdullah DAWIT ETH 2.05.42 13K
8 17 Desressa CHIMSA ETH 2.05.42 12K
9 35 Seboka TOLA ETH 2.06.17 11K
10 37 Yemane TSEGAY ETH 2.06.29 10K
1 2 Aselefech MERGIA ETH 2.19.31 250K
2 9 Lucy KABUU KEN 2.19.34 100K
3 7 Mare DIBABA ETH 2.19.52 50K
4 1 Bezunesh BEKELE ETH 2.20.30 25K
5 12 Aberu KEBEDE ETH 2.20.33 15K
6 5 Lydia CHEROMEI KEN 2.21.30 14K
7 11 Sharon CHEROP KEN 2.22.39 13K
8 3 Atsede BAYSA ETH 2.23.13 12K
9 6 Mamitu DASKA ETH 2.24.24 11K
10 4 Isabella ANDERSSON SWE 2.25.41 10K