This piece was written by our Kenyan correspondent, Justin Lagat, on the Dubai Marathon. Justin Lagat gives us a view from Kenya nearly each and every week of the year.
Geremew Mosinet and Roza Dereje break Dubai Marathon course records
This year’s Dubai Marathon races will remain historic. In particular, the men’s race that saw six runners run under 2:04:16 in a close finish will be a topic in marathon running conversations for a long time to come.
What was new this year, beside the changes made to the course, was that the race started out quite early in the morning while it was still relatively dark and cool. This seemed to have worked very well as it led to course records being set in both the men and women races. Geremew Mosinet was able to sustain a long finishing kick to slightly edge another four runners in the last few meters to win the men’s race in 2:04:00. Leul Gebresilase followed to take second in 2:04:02 while Tamirat Tola who was the defending champion and the one who started the long kick with about a kilometer to go finished third in 2:04:06.
Up to almost the half-way point in the men’s race, the leaders were running so close to a world record pace led by three Kenyan pace setters; Barselius Kipyego, Benson Kipruto and Felix Kibitok. Kibitok was the one who took the leaders up to the 30km mark as he appeared quite comfortable keeping a little gap ahead of the pack that seemed to have suddenly changed their minds from going for faster times but to rather change the race into a tactical one of remaining patient and using a surprise finishing kick in the last stages of the race. The whole chasing pack was comprised of Ethiopian athletes.
If there are races that runners from a particular nation prefer, then the Dubai marathon is definitely a favorite race for the Ethiopian runners. Ethiopian runners were able to take all the top ten positions in the men’s race and only one runner from Bahrain, Jisa Mokonin, prevented the same happening in the women’s race by placing in eighth position.
Almost like it was in the men’s race, there was a large group of runners in the women’s race up to the last two kilometers when Roza Dereje suddenly began to break away with a male pace setter from the rest of the five elite runners who had remained with her up to 40km. Dereje crossed the finish line in 2:19:17 as three other countrywomen, Fayse Tadese, Yebrguel Melese, and Worknesh Degefa followed in 2:19:30, 2:19:36 and 2:19:53 respectively.
Watching what just happened in Dubai, it seems the level of competition in marathon running is rising to a different level and that fans should be prepared to watch more interesting finishes. Perhaps, like in a track race, a bell now needs to be rung in the last kilometer to signal the final finishing dash for the tape.