Two days before the 2013 Dubai Marathon, we wrote in our race preview that ‘While it will be an open race, that can often make for the most interesting – and if past performance indicates anything the course will do its part to make for a fast time’.
The course did not disappoint and we are still catching our breath – five finishers in the men’s race finished sub 2:05 and the winner of the race was again a relatively unknown Ethiopian on debut, and now already talking about a possible tilt at the world record in future races.
It took to the final 200 metres, but it was 23 year old Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa who had the kick at the end to win a sprint finish and cross the line in 2:04:45. Four more finishers crossed the line in the next eight seconds meaning for the first time in the history of the marathon there were five finishers under sub 2:05.
It was an all Ethiopian podium with Berhanu Shiferaw second in 2.04.48; compatriot Tadese Tola clocked a personal best 2.04.49 in third and yet another Ethiopian, Endeshaw Negesse, holding on for fourth in 2:04:5. Kenyan debutant Bernard Koech finished fifth with 2:04:53.
Desisa finished 22 seconds slower than last year’s time by Ayele Abshiro however there was talk of faster times after the race.
“I tried to push the pace at 38k,” said Desisa, “but the others responded strongly so I decided to wait until the end. I have a good sprint and I was confident that it would win me the race. I had aimed for 2:06 for my debut, but when I saw the time at the finish I was shocked. If I can find a similarly good course, and my coach agrees, maybe next time I can go for the world record.”
Although largely unknown his win is not surprising; he has a 27:18 10,000m personal best and multiple sub-60 half marathons with a 59:30PB.
Ethiopians took seven out of the first ten places with Kenya taking the other three. Kenya’s pre-race smokey was debutant Moses Masai, however he failed to challenge and finished 17th overall in 2:11:00.
The women’s race was a little more predictable with pre-race favourite, Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye, living up to the hype and winning in 2.21:19. There was talk of sub 2:20 pre-race but it was not to be.
“I came with two aims,” said Tsegaye, “to win, and to run under 2:20. I was determined to push in the second half of the race, but by that time, it had become very humid, and it was affecting me. So I’m happy to win, but unhappy I didn’t break 2:20. I’ll have to come back next year, and try again.”