Pre-race favourite wins women’s race while unheralded Kenyan causes upset in men’s race
World bronze medallist Aselefech Mergia lived up to expectations to win the women’s race at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, while the relatively unknown David Barmasai surprised the more extablished stars in the men’s race to take the victory.
The led group of women went through half way in 71:11, but only Mergia was able to sustain that pace as she went on to win in 2:22:45, just three seconds outside the course record and seven seconds outside the PB she set in London last year.
This was just Mergia’s fourth marathon to date and her first victory, having finished third in London last year, third at the Worlds in 2009 and second in Paris earlier that year.
Kenya’s Lydia Cheromei came closest to challenging Mergia, finishing second in 2:23:01, knocking almost three minutes from her PB. Sweden’s Isabellah Andersson, herself a former Kenyan, also made a huge improvement in third, reducing her national record by a minute and a half to 2:23:41.
In a high-quality race nine women dipped under 2:28, one of them being former world cross-country champion Worknesh Kidane. The Ethiopian has worked hard to regain her form since giving birth a few years ago. She aimed to make her marathon debut in New York last year, but Dubai was the first marathon she has completed, finishing eighth in a very respectable 2:17:15.
Fellow Ethiopians Berhane Adere and Askale Magarsa, having expected to do well, did not finish after passing half way in 71:45.
Ini the absence of world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie, who has won in Dubai for the past three years, the unheralded Barmasai announced his arrival on the international marathon running scene with a runaway victory over a quality field.
A large lead group of 12 passed through half way in 62:46. At 30km, the leaders were just 24 seconds shy of the split Gebrselassie set when he broke the world record, but that is when they started to pay for the hot early pace.
Eliud Kiptanui, the marginal pre-race favourite, dropped out before the finish, leaving Barmasai and former Chicago champion Evans Cheruiyot to battle it out for the $250,000 first prize.
Cheruiyot, who is coming back from injury, was unable to stick to Barmasai in the final 5km as the Kenyan went on to break clear and finish in a big PB of 2:07:18. His only marathon prior to this was a win at the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon last October in 2:10:31.
Cheruiyot finished just under a minute behind in 2:08:17, his second fastest time ever. For the third year in a row Ethiopia’s Eshetu Wondimu was third, clocking 2:08:54 as six men broke the 2:10 barrier.
1 David Barmasai (KEN) 2:07:18
2 Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:08:17
3 Eshetu Wondimu (ETH) 2:08:54
4 Deressa Chimsa (ETH) 2:09:08
5 Stephen Kibet (KEN) 2:09:27
6 Berhanu Bekele (ETH) 2:09:54
7 Emanuel Samal (KEN) 2:10:27
8 Adil Annani (MAR) 2:11:15
9 Dereje Tesfaye (ETH) 2:13:26
10 Alebachew Debas (ETH) 2:13:39
1 Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 2:22:45
2 Lydia Cheromei (KEN) 2:23:01
3 Isabellah Andersson (SWE) 2:23:41 NR
4 Atsede Habtamu (ETH) 2:24:26
5 Atsede Bayisa (ETH) 2:25:08
6 Diana Chepkemoi (KEN) 2:26:53
7 Genet Getaneh (ETH) 2:27:13
8 Worknesh Kidane (ETH) 2:27:15
9 Helene Kiprop (KEN) 2:27:41
10 Feyisa Tadesse (ETH) 2:30:23