An unprecedented 11 runners go sub-2:07 in a close race, while Degefa completes a Dubai double
Worknesh Degefa made it a Dubai double with victory in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday, while debutant Olika Adugna won a dramatic sprint to the finish in an historic men’s race.
Boston Marathon champion Degefa, the winner in Dubai in 2017, clocked 2:19:38 as she led from start to finish.
But while she was well ahead and running on her own in the women’s event, the men’s race had a spectacularly close finish with Adugna the surprise winner in 2:06:15 as the first four runners crossed the line separated by just three seconds.
For the first in marathon history, 11 runners clocked times of under 2:07, bettering a record that had stood since the 2012 Dubai Marathon when 10 runners finished under 2:07.
All 11 men appear to have been wearing Nike Vaporfly shoes, with the footwear having recently been discussed by shoe guru Paul Freary in a video for AW which can be viewed here.
A leading group of 24 runners had reached the half way point in 62:43 and there were still 11 runners in contention for victory with just 2km to go.
In what looked like the finish of a middle distance track race, 20-year-old Adugna edged out another debutant as Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui finished second just two seconds adrift in 2:06:17. Tsedat Abeje took third while his fellow Ethiopian Lencho Tesfaye was fourth with both runners clocking a time of 2:06:18.
“I felt very good and always believed I could win,” said Adugna, who continued a winning streak of male Ethiopian athletes in Dubai that stretches back to 2012.
“Of course I’m delighted I was able to do it in my debut race at the distance.”
In contrast to the men’s race, Degefa enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory, passing half way in 68:36, and was set to beat the course record of 2:17:08. But suffering with back pain, Ethiopia’s fastest-ever female marathon runner could not keep her pace in the second half of the race.
The 29-year-old pre-race favourite – who clocked a national record of 2:17:41 in Dubai just twelve months earlier – remained well ahead, however, and achieved a sub-2:20 time for the third time in her career.
While Degefa finished in 2:19:38, fellow Ethiopians Guteni Shone and Bedatu Hirpa took second and third in 2:20:11 and 2:21:55 respectively.
On the recurrence of a back issue, Degefa said: “I had this problem a week ago and unfortunately it returned during the race.
“It’s true I wanted to run a much faster time but at least I’ve won the race despite the pain.”
In the wheelchair division, there were victories for Marcel Hug and Sandra Graf, with both Swiss athletes making it a hat-trick of victories in Dubai.
Hug held off a determined challenge from Zhang Yong of China to win by just one second, while Graf had a less dramatic race to the tape, winning by just under two minutes from Brazil’s Vanessa De Souza.
The races can be watched back on the live stream feed below.