The 27 year-old, who entered the race just days before, sprinted across the finish line followed by four more runners within eight seconds. Debutant Leul Gebresilase took second just two seconds later (2:04:02), while defending champion Tamirat Tola finished third in 2:04:06. Such was the quality of the race, Tola beat his own 2017 winning course record time by five seconds yet still only scraped on to the podium.
In all, seven runners clocked sub 2:05.00 – a unique result in world marathon history – with six of them no slower than 2:04:15.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the 19th edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon once again had athletics writers scurrying through the record books as the elites produced a catalogue of world-class performances.
In near perfect weather conditions, the leading group ran a very consistent pace. After a half marathon split time of 61:36, the world record of 2:02:57 was still in reach at 30k, which was passed in 1:27:35.
However after the last pacemaker dropped out, the pace fell and the athletes focused on winning the US$200,000 first prize.
Five runners were still in contention when the group entered the home straight but in the end it was the runner who entered the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon last who came in first.
The women’s race also produced record-breaking results as Roza Dereje clocked a women’s course record of 2:19:17 and with it became the seventh fastest woman in marathon history.
The Ethiopian broke away from a leading group of four in the final mile of the race and for the first time in marathon history four women clocked sub-2:20 in one race. Ethiopia’s Feyse Tadese took second with 2:19:30, followed by Yebrgual Melese (2:19:36) and defending champion Worknesh Degefa in 2:19:53. Again, such was the standard of the competition, defending champion Degefa smashed her personal best by more than two minutes yet still missed out on the top three.
While Ethiopia dominated the Marathon, in the wheelchair races it was a Swiss double with “Silver Bullet” Marcel Hug winning the men’s title (1h:25m:14s) and compatriot Sandra Graf taking the women’s gold in 1:45:13.
“I was happy to run at the pacemaker’s pace for the opening half,” said Geremew after receiving his trophy from HE Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithy, President of the General Authority For Sports, and Julian Wynter, Standard Chartered Bank UAE CEO.
“It was a good race with strong competition over a good course. When did I think I could win? I only thought about winning when I had one kilometre to go.”
A record field of more than 30,000 runners entered the event, which included races at 10km and 4km. The winner in the men’s 10km Road Race was Samir Jouaher of Morocco (29m:31s) ahead of Ethiopians Birnanu Birhanu and Beyene Amsalu, while South Africa’s Gerda Steyn (34:35s) took first place with Myriam Lamure of France and Colombia’s Jinna Gar in second and third places respectively.
In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi Natural Water, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.