Dubai (UAE): After a stunning race in 2018 that ensured the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon would end the year as number one in the world in terms of race results, the 20th anniversary of the Middle East’s biggest mass participation sporting event gets underway on the streets of the emirate on Friday (January 25).
Twelve months ago, two course records and historic finishes in the men and women’s events again underlined the region’s only IAAF Gold Label Marathon as one of the world’s premier races. And on Friday a powerful field will assemble for what is sure to be another classic battle over the classic 42.195km distance that runs through Jumeirah.
Title-sponsored by Standard Chartered for the 15th consecutive year, the event will see tens of thousands of athletes collect their run numbers and take to the streets across the Marathon, the 10km Road Race and the 4km Fun Run.
Rola Abu Manneh, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank UAE said: “We are proud to be the title sponsor of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon for the 15th consecutive year.
“Beyond being one of the largest sporting events in the UAE and the region, this marathon is also aligned to our continuous efforts in promoting healthy living among our staff and the community at large. On a global scale, the Bank sponsors nine marathons in some of the most exciting cities across our footprint in Asia, Africa and the Middle East”.
Staged under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and held under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see world-class athletes take on a course that is arguably the flattest and fastest in the sport of long-distance running.
Among the elites to look out for: Ethiopian Guye Adola who clocked the fastest ever Marathon debut time in Berlin in 2017 (2:03:46); fellow countryman and current Seoul Marathon champion Asefa Mengstu (PB 2:04:06), who finished fourth in Dubai one year ago; 2015 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon winner Lemy Berhanu also of Ethiopia (2:04:33); and Swiss athlete Tadesse Abraham who will be gunning for Mo Farah’s European Record when he makes his debut in Dubai.
In the women’s field, Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich – a two-time winner at the Istanbul Marathon – boasts the fastest personal best time of 2:18:35 but will face a strong challenge from former Dubai winner Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia (2:19:53), and a fellow Kenyan in the shape of the highly-experienced 2011 World Championship bronze medalist Sharon Cherop (2:22:28).
A battle royal is also expected in the men’s wheelchair event with Switzerland’s defending title holder and nine-time World Champion Marcel Hug – ranked number one in the world – up against a strong field of Japanese athletes featuring Hiroyuki Yamamoto and Hiroki Nishida (both ranked equal third in the world) and world number nine Ryota Yoshida.
“This will be the 20th time we have staged the Marathon in its current format and I’ve no doubt the athletes will once again provide us with a race worthy of the occasion,” said Event Director Peter Connerton.
“Last year saw new course records in both the men and women’s races, while we had seven men finish in sub 2:05 and four women in sub 2:20. Those were both unique results in marathon history and emphasised the depth of quality in the fields we put together in Dubai. As for the race route itself, we are hugely grateful to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, for assisting the event’s staging in the heart of Jumeirah.”
Over 1,000 volunteers will be on call along that route when the wheelchair athletes and the elites tackle the course at 5.55am and 6am respectively, before the mass runners in the Marathon hit the road at 7am, followed by the 10km runners at 8.30am and the 4km Fun Run entrants at 10.30am.
And such is the demand from a global audience for a race that provided the best Marathon race results in 2018, this Friday’s race will be streamed live through an embedded feed on the event’s official website (dubaimarathon.org) and on YouTube with no geo-blocking or rights restrictions.
“A great deal of work and effort goes into staging an event of this magnitude and we are grateful to the Government of Dubai for its ongoing support and co-operation,” added Event General Co-ordinator and President of the UAE Athletics Federation Ahmed Al Kamali. “The race continues to prove popular with both elite and amateur runners and for that we thank the authorities across the city who play a huge role in staging what is a massive event.”
In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Aquafina and Gatorade, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality and the RTA.
Photo:(Left to right) Peter Connerton (Event Director), Ahmed Al Kamali (Event General Co-ordinator) Rola Abu Manneh (Standard Chartered Bank UAE, CEO), H.E Saeed Hareb (Secretary General, Dubai Sports Council), athlete and broadcaster Paula Radcliffe, and Guye Adola, the fastest man in the line-up for Friday’s race.