This was my first experience visiting the Dubai Marathon and I was impressed on many levels. Here are, after a couple weeks, my deep thoughts on what I took home from this fine event.
Here are five notes from the Dubai Marathon:
1. If you want to build a major event, you better had patient and supportive sponsors. The sponsors of successful events believe in the events that they support. They may support them for many reasons, but the smart ones are in the mix for the long run. I am reminded of Julian Wynter, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, UAE, who noted that there is no one answer for a sponsor’s support, but that they are in the Dubai Marathon for the long term (Standard Chartered sponsors 8 other global races). Having seen the race grow from 600 to the current 30,000 plus for marathon, 10k and 4, that is a long term relationship, (like what we see at races like Boston).
2. For an event to be a success, it must take in the unique needs of the community, and it must find a way to stand out in an overcrowded global world of marathoning. A noted running store owner noted last year that there should be less mediocre races. The Dubai Marathon, under the watchful eye of Peter Connerton, has developed a reputation, over the past two decades, of a very fast race, with big prize purse, and an attention to detail. Building the marathon, a 10k and a 4k, Connerton provides events for the elite marathoner, destination marathoner and core and fitness runners.
3. This is the defacto Ethiopian championships. For Ethiopian runners, the Dubai Marathon is their coming out party. A big run here will be a huge payday, a $1 million prize purse plus $1 million for a world record. Managers tell me that their Ethiopian athletes all want to be here, even if they can not make money here, they believe that they can! Race Director Peter Connerton will use this success to build in elite athletes from other parts of the world in future years.
4. The depth of the Dubai Marathon is mind boggling. In a pre event interview with Peter Connerton (https://www.runblogrun.com/2018/01/dubai-marathon-the-runblogrun-interview.html), the race director spoke of his favorite race being from 2013, when five men broke 2:05. Now, in 2018, the Dubai Marathon has seven men under 2:05 and four women under 2:20. Neither had been done before.
5. The Dubai Marathon is a real destination marathon. With no visa requirements, great hotel rates and a spectacular race, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon should be on the bucket list of marathoners of all levels. The United Arab Emirates loves tourists, and there are many things to do in Dubai. For more information, please go to www.dubaimarathon.org.