Dubai Speeds into New Year, by Pat Butcher, note by Larry Eder

The Dubai Marathon, aka the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, has the most expensive prize purse in the sport of marathoning with $250,000 for first place. While Ayele Abshero, the 2012 winner, will not be there (injury), the field is literally, unbelievable...

Ayele Abshero, WC 2009 XC Junior race, photo by


With another record breaking distance running year drawing to a close, it won't be long until the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon races into 2013 in a similar direction, in just over a month's time.

Debutant Ayele Abshero of Ethiopia led a quartet under 2.05 last January, beating his illustrious compatriot Haile Gebrselassie's course record with 2.04.23, the fourth fastest in history; and in the process won the single biggest race prize in world marathoning, $250,000. With a pot like that (one million dollars in all, equal rights, men and women), there is an impressive list of pretenders for next month's Dubai race, on January 25, 2013.

Abshero is currently injured (as is women's winner, Aselefech Mergia), and so cannot defend; but leading the men's pack is Moses Mosop, the second fastest man in history, with his 2.03.06, four seconds behind Geoffrey Mutai, in Boston last year.

Mosop went on to win Chicago later in the year, but had to give best in Rotterdam 2012 to Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia who won in 2.04.48. Tsegay has no fewer than eight sub-2.10 times to his credit, and in renewing his rivalry with Mosop in Dubai, the pair will have another 21st century 'great' to contend with, in Martin Lel. Three-time winner in London, and twice in New York, Lel failed to finish on his Dubai debut last year, but his impressive win-rate coupled with a best of 2.05.15 suggests that no one will be underestimating him.

With 13 men under 2.08, and another five under 2.10,Dubai has in a very short time become one of the highest quality fields in the world of marathoning. And although race director Peter Connerton admits, "Last year's results will be hard to beat," no one will argue when he adds, " but we will once again put a field together that will attempt to achieve results in depth and not just a fast winning time.

"In addition, we are giving many young debutants the opportunity to challenge and surprise as Abshero did last year. Once again we will try to set the pace for the comingMarathon season".

One such debutant is Ali Abdosh, who, despite a medal in the African Championships, and a sixth in the World Champs, hasn't quite lived up to his early track promise; yet is persuaded by victory in the Boston 'half' in 2011 that it's time to take the marathon plunge. Equally, Bernard Koech and Mike Kigen of Kenya, and the Ethiopian pair of Lelisa Desisa and Tujuba Beyu bring sub-60min half-marathon credentials to the mix.

With twice winner, in 2011/12, Mergia injured, her Ethiopian colleagues Tirfi Tsegay, Mamitu Daska and Koren Jelela will be favourites to lift the quarter million dollar prize in the women's race. Daska won Dubai in 2010, but Jelela won Toronto with 2.22.43 three months ago, and with even better form, Tirfi Tsegay won Paris last April in 2.21.40, and followed that up with second in Berlin in late September, in 2.21.19.


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