Dubai, Jan 22 (IANS) Ethiopian elite runner Tesfaye Abera won the Dubai Marathon in two hours, four minutes and 24 seconds, nine seconds ahead of compatriot Berhanu Hayle Lemi while Tirfi Tsegaye (also Ethiopia) crossed the finishing line in 2:19:41, winning the women’s 42.195 km race here on Friday.
Amid a clear sky and sunny weather in the Gulf Arab emirate, Ethiopian Tsegaye Mekonnen was third in the men’s group with a time of 2:04:46. The women’s runner-up was Amane Beriso (2:20:48) while Meselech Melkamu took home the bronze in 2:22:29 (all from Ethiopia), reports Xinhua.
Both Abera and Tsegaye achieved new personal best times as Abera finished the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday in a time well above 2:09. Tsegaye’s personal best time was so far 2:20:18 which the 31-year-old clocked in the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
However, both winners failed to set a new course record, which stands at 2:04:23 for men and 2:19:31 for women. Both records were achieved in 2012.
Berhanu appeared to win the race as he led in the last 10 km. But the defending champion eventually lost the pole position after 39 km in a dramatic final spurt.
The first 10 km from Dubai’s iconic seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab down beyond the Jumeirah Beach Hotel saw a tug-of-war between Ethiopian and Kenyans with Amos Kipruto from Kenya leading the pack for a few kilometres.
Like previous years, tens of thousands of sports aficionados, especially from East Africa, joined the track to support their idols, painting Dubai Jumeirah Roads along the ruler-straight and pancake-flat Dubai coastline in a sea of colourful Ethiopian and Kenyan flags, albeit the race started at 6:30 a.m. on Friday.
Both winners took home $200,000.
“Dubai has done a fantastic job in recent years to expand its Marathon and we are happy to see that it became a truly global event, motivating young people to stay fit and to participate,” International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lord Coe told Xinhua.
The event consisting of the marathon, the 10 and 4 km runs gathered over 30,000 professional and hobby participants.