The Kenyans may have paved the way for mass elite success in marathon running over the past two decades, but the Ethiopians have taken up the relay, and after their domination of the distance events in the Olympic Games in Athens, they started the New Year in similar style, taking both men’s and women’s titles in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon today (Friday 7 Jan).
On a relatively cool (18C) and cloudy morning in the Gulf State, Dejene Guta bided his time while half a dozen of his Ethiopian colleagues sparred with a similar number of their Kenyan neighbours for three-quarters of the race, before Guta shot away with just over five kilometres to go, and won by over half a minute, in 2:10:49. Pre-race favourite, Willy Cheruyiot of Kenya won the sprint for second place, in 2:11:24, and another Ethiopian, Giday Amha was third two seconds behind. In the best overall result for this race, now in its sixth year, six men beat 2hr 12min.
It was only Guta’s second race outside Ethiopia - his first marathon was in Hokkaido on the same day as the Olympic race, and he was sick and only managed 2:17. “I was worried about the Kenyans at the start today,” said Guta. “I didn’t have a plan, but I felt strong going into the last five kilometres, so I attacked. This is a big boost for me, it means I can get to run in places like Boston and London”.
His 20-year-old colleague, Diribe Hunde won in her debut, in 2:39:08. Hunde, who comes from Oromia, the same province as Olympic 10,000 metres champion, Kenenisa Bekele – took her cue from the more experienced Delia Asiago. The Kenyan took up the running at halfway, and was tracked by Hunde, until the Ethiopian sprinted past to victory in the last 200 metres. Asiago clocked 2:39:13, with Larisa Malikova of Russia third in 2:40:27.
Hunde said she had her brother, Reta Feyese, a former marathoner himself, to thank for her win. “When I began to run well, when I was 17, he advised me to target the marathon,” she said. The advice paid off, to the tune of $15,000 for her win, while Guta, who got a bonus for breaking 2:12, collected $25,000.
This was the biggest race so far in the event’s history, with 600 runners in the full marathon, while 10,000 contested a 10k race and a 3k fun-run.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon
1 Dejene GUTA ETH 2:10:49
2 Willy CHERUYIOT KEN 2:11:24
3 Giday AMHA ETH 2:11:26
4 Johnstone KIPKOROR KEN 2:11:28
5 Augustus KAVUTU KEN 2:11:39
6 Joseph MUTUNGA KEN 2:11:53
7 Geb GEBREMARIAM ETH 2:12:01
8 Joseph KADON KEN 2:12:07
9 Getuli BAYO TAN 2:12:53
10 Shimeles MOLAH ETH 2:13:23
1 Diribe HUNDE ETH 2:39:08
2 Delia ASIAGO KEN 2:39:13
3 Larisa MALIKOVA RUS 2:40:27
4 Yihunelesh BEKELA ETH 2:43:10
5 Selomie GETNET ETH 2:43:37
6 Emily JETOO KEN 2:48:10