Last year in Dubai, four women broke 2:19. Race Director Peter Connerton stated at the presser this past Wednesday, that the superlative performrances of 2018 would be goals for many in upcoming years.
Then, along comes Ruth Chepngetich. A relative new comer to the ranks of marathoning, Chepngetich shocked many in November 2018, by taking 4:01 off her PB for the marathon at the Instanbul Marartrhornrr, defending her 2017 title. With a PB of 66:12 for the half marathon, and only three marathons under her belt, many thought she would play a big part in the race, but gave the win to Worknesh Degefa, with a PB of 2:19:53.
How wrong they were, as Ruth Chepnegetich not only dominated the race, but reminds many that she may be one of the few athletes who can challenge Mary Keitany for marathon global domination.
The race went out hard from the start, as five women, with four male pace makers, pushed the pace the entire distance. On the shoulders of two male pace makers, Ruth Chepngetich, with her high arm carriage reminds this writer of a metronome. In this tight pack were Worknesh Degafa, Worknesh Edesa, Waganesh Mekasha, Sintayehu Lewetegen, and Rahma Tusa.
The pace was fast from the start, with a pace of 2:16:40 noted on the screen of the streaming video, which had accolades from as far away as San Jose, California. Chepnegetich, Degefa, Edesa, Mekasha were together through 15k, hit in 48:11. Then, Mekesha came off the back, as Lewetegn and Tusa had kilometers before.
The only changes in the status were at the water stops, where Chepngetich would stop and grab a bottle, and then, quickly catch up to the pack once again. She did this so often, I thought she might be impersonating American Bill Rodgers, circa 1975, when he would stop and drink water, and also stop and tie his shoes.
By the half, the top three, Chepngetich, Degefa and Edesa were together, hitting the HM in 1:08:10. Chepngetich was relentless. Degefa dug in, and kept her head down and stayed with Chepngetich. Edesa stayed there as well, but the effort was telling.
The 25k was hit in 1:20.40, as Worknesh Edesa fell off the back, running her second half in 1:12:55, to hold onto third in 2:21.05.
And then, there were two. Ruth Chepngetich and Worknesh Degafa were side by side, as the male pace makers were down to three. Chepngetich had squandered energy, I thought, in getting her water. Degefa had no such extraneous effort.
The dynamic duo hit the 30k in 1:37.42. No change.
The two athletes showed no distress, and were playing their roles like two poker players.
Who would crack first?
The tall Kenyan and the diminutive Ethiopian hit 35 kilometers in 1:54.00, down to seven plus kilometers.
There is a time in all such races where the body revolts from the desires of the spirit. It was in this last 5 kilometers that Ruth Chepngetich broke Worknesh Degefa.
By 41.1 kilometers, which Ruth Chepngetich reached in 2:14:45, the dye was set, and Worknesh Degafa would finish second and Chepngetich would finish first.
But, could they get under 2:17?
Ruth Chepngetich was still running like a metronome, and a bit of a grimace, as she battled for every second, taking the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in a brilliant new course record of 2:17:08, and a new PB!
In second, Worknesh Degafa ran 2:17:41, a fine PB and an Ethiopian NR!
Worknesh Degefa was third in 2:21:05.
The race was superb. It also tells us something else. These two women will be in the battle, should they desire for medals in Doha 2019 and Tokyo 2020. And Ruth Chepngetich has the talent, should she desire, to challenge the fifteen year old record of one Paula Radcliffe.
Somewhere around the finish line, is a quite relaxed and smilng race director, Peter Connerton.
To see the race replay, please go to: https://www.runblogrun.com/2019/01/watch-the-2019-standard-chartered-marathon-live-january-24th-at-6pm-pst.html
2019 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Women, 1. Ruth Chepngetich, KEN, 2:17:08 CR, 2. Worknesh Degefa, ETH, 2:17:41 PB, 3. Worknesh Edesa, ETH, 2:21:05, 4. Waganesh Mekasha, ETH, 2:22:45, 5. Sintayehu Lewetegn, ETH, 2:25.29, #scdubaimarathon, #dubaimarathon, #adidasrunning, #stanchart,