Double Dubai Marathon delight for Degefa; Adugna aces men’s on debut - GulfToday

Double Dubai Marathon delight for Degefa; Adugna aces men’s on debut


Worknesh Degefa (top left) and Olika Adugna pose with their trophies along with the other podium finishers in the women’s and men’s 2020 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon held on Friday. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Worknesh Degefa made it a Dubai double with victory in the 2020 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday as debutant Olika Adugna won a dramatic sprint to the finish in an historic men’s race.

Degefa, the winner in Dubai in 2017, produced the top performance of the day, clocking a fast time of 2:19:38 leading 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.

And for the first in marathon history, eleven runners clocked times of under 2:07 -- a record that had stood since the 2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon when ten runners finished under 2:07.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the pace in the men’s race was not quite as fast as expected mainly due to the weather conditions. In relatively warm temperatures of around 20 Celsius, overcast skies and a little breeze, a leading group of 24 runners reached the half way in 62:43.

There were still eleven 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 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. Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s fastest-ever female marathon runner could not keep her pace in the second half of the race. But the 29 year-old pre-race favourite -- who clocked a national record 2:17:41 in Dubai just twelve months earlier -- remained well ahead 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.

After receiving her trophy from Mattar Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, and Rola Abu Manneh, Standard Chartered UAE CEO, Degefa revealed she suffered a recurrence of a back problem during the race.

In the wheelchair division, there were victories for Marcel Hug and Sandra Graf with both Swiss athletes making it a hat-trick of victories on the flat and fast streets of 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. Around 25,000 entered the 21st edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon with runners spread across the Marathon and the associated 10km Road Race and 4km Fun Run.

Dubai Holding meanwhile announced the highest number of Emirati participants in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon since the introduction of the UAE National Prize Category in 2011. Over the last nine years, Emirati participation has increased by 325% with the 2020 marathon not only seeing the greatest number of Emiratis taking part but also record times for UAE Nationals in the city’s signature fitness event. This year, the company’s #MyCity_MyRace campaign that called on all male and female Emiratis to participate, inspired 30% more UAE Nationals to take part across all categories versus 2019. The most significant increase was in the 10km which saw Emirati participation increase by an impressive 61% compared with last year. The 10km was a major focus for the Dubai Holding campaign as it encourages mass participation of all fitness levels. This year also witnessed the return of a UAE National who participated in the wheel chair category for the third consecutive year.

In celebration of UAE National success in the Dubai Marathon, Dubai Holding awarded a prize fund of Dhs86,000 to the top three male and female Emirati winners from each category.

Abdulrahman Alhosani, 34, member of the UAE Triathlon Association said: “I am representing the UAE triathlon team today and it’s my fifth time taking part in the Dubai Marathon. I am proud to support the #MyCity_MyRace campaign and see many of my fellow Emirati athletes and runners, both male and female participating today. I am also delighted that I broke my own personal record today coming in at 3 hours, 5 minutes in the 42km, shaving 2 minutes off my previous best. Last year was a big year for me, participating in a major Triathlon in Argentina and qualifying for the Iron Man Championship in New Zealand but I always love taking part in events here in the UAE.”

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