2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon: Ayele Abshero runs 2:04:23 debut, leads 4 under 2:05, Aselefech Mergia runs 2:19:31, leads 3 under 2:20, 6 under 2:22, 8 under 2:24, 10 under 2:26, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Ayele Abshero, 2009 WXC, photo by PhotoRun.net

Mergia_Aselefech-RAK10.JPGAselefech Mergia, 2010 RAK, photo by PhotoRun.net

Well, if you thought Houston was amazing with four course records, then Dubai has really opened the marathon year of 2012 as something very special.  Ayele Abshero cranks out a 2:04:23 in his debut, leading four men under 2:05. Aselefech Mergia runs 2:19:31, with two more women following her under 2:20. Incredible depth on the women's side in the race as well! 

ABSHERO 2:04:23

DUBAI (UAE, Jan 27): The 13th edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon was anything but unlucky, as extraordinary fast results for both men and women broke many records for speed and depth. In the men's race, Ethiopia's Ayele Abshero clocked a course record 2:04:23 to become history's fifth-fastest man under any conditions, and the fourth-fastest on a record-quality course. When not counting Boston last year, it is also the fastest debut. Behind him, compatriots Dino Sefir (2:04:50) and Markos Geneti (2:04:54) and Kenya's Jonathan Maiyo (2:04:56) also broke 2:05 making the Dubai race the first ever where four men broke 2:05 on a record-quality course (four broke 2:05 on Boston's point-to-point and downhill course last year, also). But that was just the tip of the pyramid. Going down the finish order, eight men broke 2:06 (a world record), and 13 broke 2:08 (another world record), and best times for place were set for fourth through seventh. A finish time of 2:12:19 was only good for 20th place, well outside the ten-deep prize money list. The Kenyans who carried all before them last year in the marathon world were firmly rebuffed. Maiyo was the only non-Ethiopian in the top ten. Pre-race favourite Martin Lel dropped off the lead group before 30k, but soldiered on to finish 35th in 2.34.57. Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, looking to make his fifth Olympic team, finished 19th in 2.12.12. A relatively sedate start, followed by gradual acceleration in temperate conditions ensured that a large group of over 30 men reached halfway in 62.22. That group was only whittled down well past 30k, and with the top five finishers relaying the lead until Abshero made his break close to 40k fast times all round were the order of the day. There were perfect conditions for marathon running in the Gulf state, with temperatures of 12C (55F) at the 7am start, only rising a couple of degrees by the women's finish shortly before 9.20am. Abshero, whose most notable feat apart from his world junior cross victory was beating (a less than fully fit) Kenenisa Bekele in a 15k road race three years ago, maintained that his finishing time was his target. "I thought I could run 2.04 today," he said at the press conference, "but it's hard to plan for your first marathon, really I just didn't know what was going to happen. But I'm very happy. I'm now the number one in Ethiopia, and I think it could be the Olympic Games for me". With help from Pat Butcher and RRW.


MERGIA 2:19:31

DUBAI (UAE, Jan 27): Results in the women's race were similarly impressive. Ethiopia's Aselefech Mergia won the race for the second time, clocking a course and national record 2:19:31. Indeed, Mergia became the first Ethiopian women to run under 2:20. Behind her, Kenya's Lucy Kabuu--who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games as „Lucy Wangui"--clocked 2:19:34 in her debut, while Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba also went under the previous national record in 2:19:52. Those three women became the first ever to run sub-2:20 in the same race. Down the finish order, six women broke 2:22 (world record), eight broke 2:24 (another world record) and ten broke 2:26. Both Abshero and Mergia earned first place prizes of USD 250,000, the largest first place prizes in all of marathon running. "I know the course, so I felt confident. I prepared well and I'm delighted with 2.19. I'm now the best Ethiopian, and with a time like that, I hope to be selected for the Olympic Games," said Mergia. While the men's leaders ran a negative split - the second half faster than the first - the women's pace was fairly even. A group of nine went though the 'half' in 69.42. Again it was the Ethiopians who fared better in the second half of the race, with last year's second Lydia Cheromei of Kenya dropping back to finish in a personal best 2:21:30. And she beat the other Kenyan woman who is in the exclusive group of 6 pre-selected runners for Olympic Games Sharon Cherop who was 7th in 2:22:39 (also a PB). Sweden´s Isabellah Andersson was the best European of the day with 2:25:41 as 10th. Interestingly, the Standard Chargered Dubai Marathon is the world's most „top-heavy" marathon. Despite the incredible results at the top of the finish order, only 1575 runners finished the race (1238 men and 337 women). However, finishers were up from 1298 last year, and a record 8344 runners finished the companion 10-K. With help from Pat Butcher and RRW.



ADDIS ABABA (ETH): The results are making the situation tough for all-time hero Haile Gebrselassie who is in preparation for Tokyo Marathon in February. He responded on his twitter: „Great results in Dubai today! This makes the challenge to qualify for the Olympics even bigger!"



DUBAI (UAE): Ken Nakamura provided already stats after Dubai which are impressive. In the men marathon history Dubai is now has the fourth fastest course record, behind Boston, Berlin and Frankfurt. Top 10 average for Dubai men is 2:05:10, third fastest behind Berlin (2:04:55) and Rotterdam (2:05:07). Record 17 runners broke 2:10 (previous record in 14 in 2011 Frankfurt). Record 8 runners broke 2:06. Record 10 runners broke 2:07. Record 14 runners broke 2:08 and record 15 runners broke 2:09. Abshero, Sefir, Geneti and Maiyo became 13th, 14th, 15th & 16th runner running sub 2:05. Abshero´s time (and also Mergia´s) is the fastest ever in January. In women stats Dubai has the fourth fastest course record behind London, Chicago and Berlin. Top 10 average for Dubai (women) is 2:21:16, fourth fastest behind London (2:19:22), Chicago (2:19:59), & Berlin (2:20:34). Mergia, Kabuu and Mare Dibaba (she is also the youngest with sub 2:20) became 13th, 14th and 15th runner. Kabuu became the second fastest marathon debutante behind Radcliffe. Beata Naigambo of Namibia clocked new national record as 14th in 2:29:20.



BERLIN (GER): Ariane Friedrich is ready for her comeback in Hustopece on Saturday. The German is overwhelmed by media attention to announce her return and she revealed that she has given her hair a new colour in order to be fully ready for the event. Her coach and manager Gunther Eisinger reported he expects at least 190 from her, writes leichtathletik.de. „Im really excited," she said on her facebook. Friedrich arrived to Czech Republic late afternoon on Friday. The other jumpers Chaunte Howard, Svetlana Shkolina and Irina Gordeyeva came in already on Thursday from jumping meet in Cottbus. Howard with olympic winner Andrey Silnov and world medalist Trevor Barry signed autographs for kids on Friday morning. The flying Russian Ivan Ukhov also came in to Hustopece for his season opener on Friday midday from Moscow. The women competition starts at 5 pm and men 6.30 pm. In total 12 men (only one with PB under 230) and 12 women (worst PB 190). Live results and stream at www.skakani.cz and www.moravskavyskarskatour.cz.



PRETORIA (RSA): South African media are informing that 2009 World Champion Caster Semenya will not be seeing in lot of action in South Africa this year. Her agent Jukka Härkönen said it was a mistake for Semenya to take part in so many events last year. "She couldn't train properly. Maria Mutola, her coach, made it clear that the Olympics is simply too important to take any chances. Semenya will only take part in the 800m at the South African event in Port Elizabeth," Härkönen said. "She might take part in the 400m and the 1 500m once, but that will be all," said the manager who added that she will take part in a select few events in Europe in May. As it is known Semenya is not planning to compete indoors.



NAIROBI (KEN): The 800 m reigning olympic winner Pamela Jelimo after running 53.6 in Nairobi this week confirmed via her management that she plans to compete during the European indoor season. Her first ever indoor races at 800 m should happen in Dusseldorf on February 10 and in Lievin on February 14.



GOMEL (BLR, Jan 27): Olympic medalist Andrey Kravchenko won the Belarus indoor heptathlon title with world leading 6205 points. During first day he achieved 7.24, impressive 775, 14.91 and 210. On Friday Kravchenko came back with 8.09 at the hurdles, five meters in pole vault and 2:41.22 in the 1000 m. With this result he might have a good chance to qualify for World Indoors in Istanbul based on this years results. Other events were part of Belarus Cup and top marks came in women jumps. Anastasiya Mironchik-Ivanova leaped to 682 in the long jump ahead of Veronika Shutkova 677 and Olga Sudareva 673 (PB). Kseniya Detsuk achieved 14.48 in the triple jump, new national indoor record. Elena Kopets got 18.80 in the shot put, Natalya Koreyvo 4:08.60 in the 1500 m, Alina Talay 8.12 at the hurdles and Yulia Balykina 7.28 at 60 m. From male results to note 7.69 at 60 m hurdles by Maksim Lynsha.







SCHOORL (NED) : The 35 edition of the Groet uit Schoorl Run (February 12) will feature a very strong women's field led by Lornah Kiplagat. Kiplagat, who is already qualified for the marathon at the London Olympic Games, considers the 10K a testrun in the build up to London. Also in the field are Dutch athletes Miranda Boonstra, Heleen Plaatzer, Ilse Pol, Merel de Knegt, Ruth van der Meijden, Sabine van de Reijdt, Lesley van Miert, Lindsay Poesiat and Mariska Kramer reports organizers Le Champion.


BERLIN (GER) : German pole vaulter Carolin Hingst is cancelling the first meetings of her indoor schedule. Hingst was scheduled to compete in Donetsk and Birmingham but has to withdraw due to problems with her Achilles. It is possible she can compete at the German national indoor championships at the end of February.


VALENCIA (ESP) : Spanish athlete Marta Dominguez is not happy about the sculpture that artist Luis Alonso has made in honour of the opening of the municipial sports pavilion. Dominguez does not recognize herself in the sculpture which now leads to a delay in revealing the statue. It is the second time the revealing of the statue has to wait as in December 2010 special celebrations seemed inappropriate after the 'operacion puerto'.


LONDON (GBR): To mark six months until the start of London 2012, the Olympic Village has been handed over by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) so officials can start the huge process of fitting-out the new apartments ready for the arrival of more than 10,000 athletes. The Village, which has been completed on time, will accommodate up to 16,000 athletes and officials for the Olympics, which are due to open on July 27 writes Insidethegames.


MONTE CARLO (MON): The IAAF has announced a five year sponsorship starting in January 2012 which sees Nestlé become the main sponsor of the IAAF Kids' Athletics programme. Under the terms of the agreement, Nestlé will provide financial support for the further worldwide development of IAAF Kids' Athletics which is one of the biggest grassroots development programmes in the world of sports.


PRETORIA (RSA): South African media are informing that 2009 World Champion Caster Semenya will not be seeing a lot of action in South Africa this year. Her agent Jukka Härkönen said it was a mistake for Semenya to take part in so many events last year. "She couldn't train properly. Maria Mutola, her trainer, made it clear that the Olympics is simply too important to take any chances. Semenya will only take part in the 800m at the South African event in Port Elizabeth," Härkönen said. "She might take part in the 400m and the 1 500m once, but that will be all," said the manager who added that she will take part in a select few events in Europe in May.


VIGO (ESP): The Spanish City of Vigo declared it will be unable to host Spanish Championships this year. It was despite the necessary fee to organize the event set by Spanish Federation was lowered from 300 000 to 250 000 Euro. The financial difficulties are too big to organise the event in Vigo. The championships are scheduled for post olympic period on August 25-26.


BRAZZAVILLE (CGO): African Athletics website informs that the Republic of Congo will host the All Africa Games in 2015. The Government thus hopes to release CFA 30 billion francs this year to start preparing for this great event billed for Brazzaville. The revelation was made by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Léon Alfred Opimbat who said the bulk of the appropriation will be used to construct and renovate sports infrastructure.


ATHENS (GRE): Greek athletics is planning only two events in the indoor season according to media reports. On February 4 and the national championships February 21-22 in Piraeus.


SEVILLA (ESP): At the recent Spanish Athletics Federation annual meeting the accounts of 2011 ended with a deficit of 271 128 Euro as a result of revenue amounting to 13 082 738 and expenditures to 13 353 867. The approved draft budget for the 2012 season amounts to 16 963 660 Euro. It includes also the budget of the World Junior Championships held in Barcelona. Informs RFEA website.







DUBAI (UAE, Jan 27): Eritrean Tekle Sahle won the accompanying 10 km race in 28:47. Best woman was Bethlem Desalegn, now known as Mariam Abdullah Mubarak of the home country in 34:14.


BUCURESTI (ROU, Jan 27): Best result of first day of national GP meet was the triple jump 14.14 by Cristina Bujin.


BIRMINGHAM (USA, Jan 26): Gloria Asumnu posted 7.21 at 60 m and Jamaican Eric Keddo clocked 7.78 at 60 m hurdles.


WANGANUI (NZL, Jan 27): At Cooks Classic which marked 50th anniversary of Peter Snell´s world record US Will Leer won the mile in 3:58.49 ahead of local hero Nick Willis 3:58.81 and Briton Hamish Carson 3:59.11.


PRETORIA (RSA, Jan 21): Late addition from South Africa. Khotso Mokoena achieved at Tuks Open Championships 780 in the long jump.

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