The Standard Chartered Duba Marathon is Friday, January 20, 2017. It has tremendously fast fields in both the men's and women's race. With the fast and flat course, and the relatively cool weather for January in Dubai, this could be very, very fast! Here is how Justin Lagat picked the race!
Fast times could be registered at the Dubai marathon and all eyes will be on Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, but he is going to face a tough competition from some of the world's fastest marathon runners mostly from his country.
Bekele ran 2:03:03 at the Berlin Marathon last year which was only six seconds shy of the world record. And, with the incentives at the Dubai Marathon, there is no reason why Bekele will not try to push harder to break his personal best time.
Dubai marathon organizers are very eager to see a world record run on their course and are offering the richest prize bonus of USD$250,000 for a new world record. Besides that, they have enlisted the services of strong pace setters that include Negesse Endeshaw who has a personal best time of 2:04:52 which he registered after finishing 4th at the Dubai marathon in 2013. He was also the winner of the Tokyo marathon in 2015.
Tsegaye Mekonnen is perhaps another man to watch closely besides Bekele. He ran a personal best of 2:04:32 on his marathon debut at the Dubai Marathon in 2014. He also ran a time of 2:04:46 on the same course last year which shows some consistency in his times. Given the experience he now has and how well he now understands the Dubai course, then he could be the real contender here.
Dino Sefir will be another contender to watch with a personal best time of 2:04:50. He won both the Barcelona and the Ottawa marathons last year, which boosts his confidence ahead of this race. He is not new to the Dubai course having finished second in 2012 to register his personal best time.
Other contenders in the men's race include Abera Kuma (2:05:56), Tamirat Tola (2:06:17), Dechasa Chele (2:06:33), Samuel Ndungu (2:07:04) and Yenew Alamirew who will be debuting to marathon after an impressive career on track, among others.
The women's elite field is also very impressive.
Shure Demise with a personal best time of 2:20:59 is top on the list. Her recent win came in October last year when she defended her title at the Toronto marathon in 2:25:15. Her personal best time came when she finished 4th during her marathon debut in Dubai in 2015.
Meselech Melkamu who held the African record over the 10km distance from 2009 to 2016 will be another contender in the women's race. She has a personal best time of 2:21:01 and won both the Hamburg and Amsterdam marathons last year.
Other women elite runners include Yebrgual Arage (2:23:23), Workenesh Edesa (2:24:04), Ruti Aga (2:24:41) and Roza Dereje (2:26:18), among others.