Ethiopia’s super-talented Atsedu Tsegay and Abera Kuma will make their marathon debuts at the 2014 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on 24 January, race organisers for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced on Thursday (19).
Tsegay is in great form at the moment and won the New Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday, just a few weeks after his triumph on home soil in the Great Ethiopian Run over 10km.
Competing against a strong field in India, the 21-year-old Ethiopian clocked a hugely impressive 59:12, showing that he has fully recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of competition for almost a year.
Kuma, now 23, has proven track pedigree, twice qualifying for the IAAF World Championships. He was fifth in the 5000m in Daegu 2011 and he repeated that position in the 10,000m in Moscow this summer.
Last year, Kuma also gave a strong indication of his ability on the road when he made his half marathon debut in the British city of Birmingham, what was then an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, and he finished second at that high quality race in 1:00:19.
Now he moves up to the full marathon distance and his track speed could prove to be tailor-made for a fast course like Dubai.
Two Ethiopian debutants have won the most recent editions of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in spectacular style. Ayele Abshero broke the course record with 2:04:23 in 2012 and Lelisa Desisa clocked 2:04:45 last year.
Might a third consecutive upset be on the cards in just over a month?
The pair will be on the start line alongside their more experienced compatriot Markos Geneti, who finished third in the 2012 Dubai race in a personal best 2:04:54.
Maiyo and Kipkemboi lead Kenyan challenge
Two fast Kenyan runners were also announced on Thursday, with more names to come in the next few weeks.
Jonathan Maiyo was fourth at the 2012 Dubai Marathon and smashed his personal best by almost eight minutes, improving from 2:12:45 to 2:04:56, when finishing behind an Ethiopian trio which included Geneti.
The 25-year-old has run only one marathon this year, finishing 10th in Tokyo in 2:10:18, but he has told the organisers of one of the fastest marathons in the world that he has every intention of being back at his best for Dubai.
Also returning to the Emirate is Maiyo’s compatriot Nicholas Kipkemboi, who made his marathon debut in Dubai this past January and clocked a fine 2:06:33 for sixth place.
Kipkemboi was then drafted in late into the Kenya’s IAAF World Championships team but dropped out of the marathon in Moscow. Dubai now offers a welcome opportunity to bounce back after that disappointment.
“We are putting together a talented field of elites for the marathon with a great mix of experienced runners and up-and-coming potential, said Peter Connerton, the event director of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. "These athletes know that a race time that would normally win any other major race might not even be good enough for a podium place in Dubai so they have to be at their best.
“Last year, the top five were all under 2:05 – a first in marathon history – with a fantastic fight to the finish line," he added. "With a great field taking shape for 24 January, we should be in for yet another fast and hard-fought race in 2014."
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF.