By Sam Bridge
Soloman Deksisa and Worknesh Degefa chase top titles at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday
Ethiopian duo Soloman Deksisa and Worknesh Degefa will spearhead a strong elite field at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday.
Deksisa and Degefa will lead a group of major city marathon winners and athletes with more than 35 international victories between them.
For Deksisa – who set his PB of 2:04:40 when finishing third in Amsterdam in 2018 – it’s a debut appearance in Dubai and the 25-year-old will be looking to add to the back-to-back city marathon wins he enjoyed in Hamburg and Mumbai in 2018.
Another Dubai debutant is Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui whose personal best of 58:42 makes him the fastest half marathon runner ever.
Degefa holds the distinction of being the fastest Ethiopian female marathon runner of all time thanks to a stunning personal best of 2:17:41 - the fifth fastest marathon time ever run by a woman – set in Dubai just 12 months ago.
As well as that personal best when finishing second last year, Degefa won in Dubai in 2017 and finished 4th in 2018.
She will have her challengers, most notably former Boston Marathon winner Bizunesh Deba (2:19:59) and the up-and-coming Bedatu Hirpa, who won the 2017 Athens Marathon at the age of just 18.
“We are pleased to be the title sponsor of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon for the 16th consecutive year,” said Rola Abu Manneh, CEO for Standard Chartered Bank, UAE. “This flagship event, now in its 21st year, has become one of the region’s most anticipated social and sporting platforms bringing together thousands of people from all over the world. For the few hours of the marathon, all participants are united on one single path – to the finish line."
"Last year we witnessed two new course records and some fantastic Marathon times," said event director Peter Connerton. "This week, the course is the same for the 21st running of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon so we are looking forward to yet another high-quality race from a talented group of elite athletes."