Askale Magarsa of Ethiopia shattered the event record in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon this morning (Friday), when she ran away to victory in a personal best time of 2.27.19, while Kenyan William Rotich won a highly competitive men's section, whittling the field down from 20 at halfway, until he finally got away alone in the last three kilometres, to win in 2.09.53.
The unusually cool conditions for the Emirate - 12C at the 7am start, rising to 16C at the finish ensured faster times than normal. And the new flat course along the sea, turning at the famous 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel also ensured a rapid return.
Even so, Askaleâ's time was extraordinary, given that she ran alone from 11k onwards. At halfway, she was on 2.25.30 pace, and only slipped a little in the second half, bettering her previous record, 2.27.57, which she set in winning Milan three months ago. But she was over six minutes faster than the previous best for the event, 2.33.31, by Alina Ivanova of Russia in 2002.
Askale, 23 and from Arsi Province, home to world record holder Kenenisa Bekele, looked as if she might have run faster, given that she started jogging again right after she crossed the line. But maybe she didn't want to embarras her husband, Debele Tola, who only finished five minutes ahead of her.
With hubby interpreting, she said she wants to run for Ethiopia in the Bejing Olympics next year, and then think about running sub-2.20. Her youth and attitude suggest that's a distinct possibility.
The new course meant that both times were records, but Rotichâ€™s mark has only been beaten once in the eight years of the event, when compatriot Joseph Kahuga ran 2.09.33 in 2003.
Benoit Zwierzchlewski of France ensured the pack got off to a flying start. The European record holder (2.06.36), coming back after a lengthy injury set a perfect pace, hitting 3.03 each kilometre up to 19k. Seeing he was forging ahead, he throttled back to 64.35 at halway.
When he dropped out, the pace waned while the pack considered their options, but it soon picked up again, with defending champion, Joseph Ngeny and Rotich leading the way.
Ngeny dropped off the pace at 38k, and finished fifth, and one kilometre later, Rotich surged ahead, and built up a winning margin of over 40 seconds on second place, Joseph Wambua and Musa Kanda, both Kenyans, who finished in 2.10.33 and 2.10.40 respectively.
Rotich, who comes from Kapsait, a village situated at 3000 metres altitude, near the Kenya/Uganda border, said afterwards, â€œThe pace was ideal, and this is a good fast course. I think with the right people and pacing, someone could do 2.05 hereafter. Dubai Holdings, the national investment company just got there before him. Two days prior to the event, they announced a one million dirhams (US$275,000) bonus for a world record in Dubai.
New course, new incentive. Events in the Gulf are moving apace!
1 William ROTICH KEN 2.09.53 $30k + car +10k bonus*
2 Joseph WAMBUA KEN 2.10.34 $15k
3 Musa KANDA KEN 2.10.40 $10k
4 Alfonce YATICH KEN 2.10.58 $6k
5 Joseph NGENY KEN 2.11.03 $4k
6 Khalid EL BOUMLILI MOR 2.11.40 $3k
7 William BIAMA KEN 2.12.24 $2k
8 Halefom TESEGAYE ETH 2.13.38 $1k
9 James KOSKEI KEN 2.14.02 $1k
10 Augustus KAVUTU KEN 2.14.25 $1k
1 Askale MAGARSA ETH 2.27.19 $30k + 10k bonus*
2 Abebe EDA ETH 2.35.39 $15k
3 Adenech JEMILU ETH 2.39.28 $10k
4 Mulie GURMU ETH 2.39.35 $6k
5 Alem GEBREEZGI ETH 2.40.11 $4k
6 Hirut LEGESSE ETH 2.45.33 $3k
*bonus for sub-2.10 men, sub-2.28 women
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