HB5Q4984.jpgAhmed Al Kamali (second from left), Worknesh Degefa, Peter Connerton, Julian Wynter, Tamirat Tola, HE Saeed Hareb, Paula Radcliffe, Aselefech Mergia, photo courtesy of Dubai Marathon.

The presser was well done, and the weather was comfortable. Pat Butcher, noted journalist, asked good questions, as did Dubai marathon communications manager Alan Ewens. The event will be a huge success with 27,000 runners and walkers from 154 countries.

If desire was the indicator, there will be a world record in Dubai on Friday. We will just have to wait and see, as Tamirat Tola has the wheels to do it. The U.A.E.'s representative on the IAAF Council, Ahmed Al Kamali told one of the local newspapers that he desires a WR very much, seeing that the Dubai Marathon would become even more of a fixture. As we get to within 24 hours of the 19th running of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, we can focus on the tough battles that the men and woman will have up front. This release speaks about those rivalries.


Dubai (UAE): Defending champions Tamirat Tola and Worknesh Degefa will face a powerful elite field of Olympians and major city Marathon winners with more than 40 international titles between them when the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is held on Friday (January 26).

Twelve months ago, the Ethiopian pair dominated both the men and women's races in the IAAF Gold Label event with Tola setting a new course record in a time of 2h:04m:11s - currently the tenth fastest marathon time in history.

This year, Tola and Degefa return to defend their titles in the 19th staging of the Middle East's biggest mass participation sporting event, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council.

"The 2018 race will be the 14th successive year of the Bank being title sponsors of this mega event and we are very excited as its popularity has grown substantially over these years," said Julian Wynter, CEO for Standard Chartered Bank, UAE.

"It's an incredible partnership that we look forward to developing year after year. It is closely aligned to our efforts in promoting healthy living among our staff and the community at large."

Following his win in Dubai last year - a victory that saw him break the course record by 12 seconds - Tola underlined his growing stature by taking silver in the marathon at the World Championships in London in August.

He returns to Dubai as the fastest man in the field and will be aiming to see off the challenge of the likes of 2015 Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse and half-marathon specialist Mosinet Geremew, both also from Ethiopia.

In the women's line-up, 2017 winner Degefa may hold the champion's bragging rights but she is only the fourth fastest in the field with three-time Dubai winner and former London Marathon champion Aselefech Mergia and ex-world champion and Oympic bronze medalist Mare Dibaba just two of the big guns ahead of her in the table of personal bests.

While the elite fields will take to the roads at 6am on Friday, the honour of getting the day's action underway falls to the best international field of wheelchair athletes ever seen at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

Among those starting a battle royale at 5.55am will be defending champion Rafa Botello of Spain, Britain's former Dubai winner JohnBoy Smith, the Swiss nine-time world champion and double Paralympic gold medallist Marcel Hug, and ten-time Boston Marathon winner Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa

"It's a strong field of elite athletes across the board," said Event Director Peter Connerton. "It's great to see the two champions from 2017 return to defend their titles, while the wheelchair race is shaping up to be the best we have ever seen in the history of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon."

Already this multi-cultural, multi-national occasion has attracted entries from 154 different nationalities with athletes of all ages and abilities set to hit the roads of Dubai in the Marathon, the 10km Road Race and the 4km Fun Run. The mass participation Marathon will start at 7.00am, with the 10km race off at 9.00am and the 4km runners starting at 11.00am.

From the youngest 10km runner - 15 year-old Aranya Gupta of India - to the oldest - Japan's 77 year-old Masako Ono - the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon continues to attract thousands of competitors with India leading the way in numbers and runners from the Philippines and the UK being the next biggest contingents.

"It's a huge occasion for the city and one that relies on the welcome support of the authorities," said UAE Athletics Federation President Ahmed Al Kamali.

"Thanks to the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Primer Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the event continues to make great strides both as a sporting event and as a showcase for the city."

As well as Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.

Final last-minute entries for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and the associated 10km and 4km can be made online at or in person at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel Conference Centre on Thursday (January 25) between 9am and 5pm only.

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