Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Roza Dereje winning with course records to take the men's and women's titles at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Roza Dereje smashed the course records to take the men's and women's titles at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, the world’s richest marathon on Friday.

Mosinet Geremew led an Ethiopian sweep of the top 10 in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon with a course record of 2:04:00 in one of the most thrilling finishes in marathon history.

The 27 year-old sprinted across the finish line followed by four more runners within eight seconds. Debutant Leul Gebresilase took second just two seconds later (2:04:02), while defending champion Tamirat Tola finished third in 2:04:06.

Such was the quality of the race that Tola beat his own 2017 winning course record time by five seconds, yet still only scraped on to the podium ahead of Asefa Mengstu (2:04:06) and Sisay Lemma (2:04:08), after a sprint finish to the finishing line.

In all, seven runners clocked sub 2:05.00 – a unique result in world marathon history – with six of them no slower than 2:04:15.

All the top five to cross the finishing line bettered the previous best time of the men’s race set by the 2017 winner Tola,

“I knew I had a chance after around 41km into the race,” said Geremew, who only knew he was racing in Dubai only two weeks ago.

“As always, a race at this level, is very hard to win. The pacemakers had nicely set-up the race for an exciting finish. Anybody from the six of us could have gone on and won the race, and fortunately it was me.”

Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew breaking the course record to take the men's title at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew breaking the course record to take the men's title at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Tola who nearly fell at the 30km stage when a runner came across him at the water point said he was happy with the result.

“One of the runners came in front of me and bumped on my left leg,” he said. “I lost my balance but I don’t know if it had an impact on the result.

“I’m happy with my performance and the result anyway. It was a strong race and the best on the day won.”

The Kenyan pacemaking quartet Felix Kibitok, Barselius Kipyego, Benson Kipruto and Ronald Kipkoech breezed in front to pave the way for the Ethiopian runners.

Kibitok was the last to drop-out at the 30km stage to leave Tola in front but the lead kept changing with just six left in the lead as they approached the 40km mark.

At the sprint to the finish, Geremew proved the strongest. Gebresilase, running his first full marathon, tried to challenge but fell short.

“When you finish second in your first marathon there is no reason to be unhappy,” said Gebresilase.

“I don’t know what’s next for me. I’ll discuss my future races with my coach and follow his advice and intsructions.”

Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje smashed the course record to take the women's titles at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje smashed the course record to take the women's titles at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Dereje led women's race sweep

Roza Dereje completed the Ethiopian double in the women’s race for a seventh successive year, clocking a women’s course record of 2:19:17 and with it became the seventh fastest woman in marathon history.

The Ethiopian broke away from a leading group of four in the final mile of the race and for the first time in marathon history four women clocked sub-2:20 in one race.

Ethiopia’s Feyse Tadese also lowered the 2012 record time of Aselefech Mergia (2:19:31) by clocking 2:19:30 in second place, followed by Yebrgual Melese (2:19:36) and defending champion Worknesh Degefa in 2:19:53.

Again, such was the standard of the competition, defending champion Degefa smashed her personal best by more than two minutes yet still missed out on the top three in another Ethiopian dominance of the race.

Dereje was thrilled with her performance in prevailing in the women's race.

“Our race was closely grouped for a long way of the trip but I managed to draw away from the pack,” she said.

The men's race at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

The men's race at the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon / Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon Office

Swiss wheelchair double

While Ethiopia dominated the Marathon, in the wheelchair races it was a Swiss double with “Silver Bullet” Marcel Hug winning the men’s title (1h:25m:14s) and compatriot Sandra Graf taking the women’s gold in 1:45:13.

“I was happy to run at the pacemaker’s pace for the opening half,” said Geremew after receiving his trophy from HE Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithy, President of the General Authority For Sports, and Julian Wynter, Standard Chartered Bank UAE CEO.

“It was a good race with strong competition over a good course. When did I think I could win? I only thought about winning when I had one kilometre to go.”

A record field of more than 30,000 runners entered the event, which included races at 10km and 4km.

The winner in the men’s 10km Road Race was Samir Jouaher of Morocco (29:31) ahead of Ethiopians Birnanu Birhanu and Beyene Amsalu, while South Africa’s Gerda Steyn (34:35) took first place with Myriam Lamure of France and Colombia’s Jinna Gar in second and third places respectively.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the 19th edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon once again had running journalists looking through the record books as the elites produced a catalogue of world-class performances.

In almost perfect weather conditions, the leading group ran a very consistent pace. After a half marathon split time of 61:36, the world record of 2:02:57 was still in reach at 30k, which was passed in 1:27:35.

However after the last pacemaker dropped out, the pace fell and the athletes focused on winning the US$200,000 first prize.

Five runners were still in contention when the group entered the home straight but in the end it was the runner who entered the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon last who came in first.

Selected Results

MEN:
1. Mosinet Geremew, ETH, 2:04:00
2. Leul Gebresilase, ETH, 2:04:02
3. Tamirat Tola, ETH, 2:04:06
4. Asefa Mengstu, ETH, 2:04:06
5. Sisay Lemma, ETH, 2:04:08
6. Birhanu Legese, ETH, 2:04:15
7. Seifu Tura, ETH, 2:04:44
8. Yenew Alamirew, ETH, 2:08:56
9. Mekuant Ayanew, ETH, 2:09:20
10. Berhanu Teshome, ETH, 2:10:27

WOMEN:
1. Roza Dereje, ETH, 2:19:17
2. Feyse Tadese, ETH, 2:19:30
3. Yebrgual Melese, ETH, 2:19:36
4. Worknesh Degefa, ETH, 2:19:53
5. Haftamnesh Tesfay, ETH, 2:20:13
6. Gelete Burka, ETH, 2:20:45
7. Dera Dida, ETH, 2:21:45
8. Desi Jisa, BRN, 2:24:05
9. Sembere Teferi, ETH, 2:24:11
10. Muliye Dekebo, ETH, 2:26:52