Shure Demise and Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia will lead the women’s field at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 20 January.
Three years ago Melkamu finished runner-up after missing out on victory by just 22 seconds to fellow Ethiopian Mulu Seboka, while Demise has already shown what she can achieve in Dubai, having run a personal best of 2:20:59 over the flat course for fourth place in 2015.
Demise has also won the past two Toronto Marathons and will be looking to celebrate her birthday in style when she takes to the start line outside the Dubai Police Academy on Umm Suqeim Road. Demise turns 21 just 24 hours later.
“Over the years we have enjoyed some amazing battles in the women’s race, including the 2012 marathon when the top three women all broke 2:20, which still remains unmatched by any other marathon,” said event director Peter Connerton.
Like Demise, 31-year-old Melkamu is a thoroughbred elite who ran a superb marathon debut when she won the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon in 2:21:01. As well as finishing fourth in Dubai in 2014, Melkamu claimed third place in last year’s race and has the potential for a sub-2:20 performance.
“I want to reach times in the marathon that are as good as the results I achieved in the 10,000m,” said Melkamu who has accumulated a haul of eight medals at IAAF World Championships, IAAF World Indoor Championships and IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Joining Demise and Melkamu in the Dubai line-up are fellow Ethiopians Tadelech Bekele, who returns to Dubai following her seventh-place finish with a personal best of 2:22:51 in 2015, and Arage Yebrgual, winner of both the Prague and Boston marathons in 2015.
“Like their male counterparts, the leading female athletes are all keen to compete in Dubai,” said Event General Coordinator, UAE Athletics Federation Chairman and IAAF Council Member Ahmed Al Kamali.
“The nature of the course and the wonderful running conditions lend themselves to fast times and the opportunity to set a personal best, while the financial incentive is also bigger than other events.”
Organisers for the IAAF