Dubai, UAE – (January 21, 2010) - Ethiopians look like winning the jackpot for the third year running, in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon tomorrow (Friday). Haile Gebrselassie is the firm favourite to rack up a hat trick of victories; and the women’s winner is almost certain to be a compatriot for the third successive year.

Equally likely, the women’s winner will be doing the trick for the second time, since outstanding favourites, Bezunesh Bekele and Askale Magarsa, have both won here, Bekele last year, and Magarsa two years ago. We might have had a third winner, their better known colleague Berhane Adere, who won in 2008, but she cried off a few days ago, having failed to satisfy herself that she was fit enough.

The prospect of seeing her national record, 2:20:42 being broken might have been an additional factor, because unusually for the normally reticent East Africans, both Bekele and Magarsa were right upfront about their ambitions to join the exclusive women’s sub-2:20 club.

That numbers just nine women so far, with Magarsa right on the verge with her 2:21:31 in Berlin 18 months ago, and Bekele a little further out, but with her 2:23:09 all the more impressive since it was in her debut, here two years ago, second to Adere.

Magarsa’s form plumetted after a bad hip injury, and she had to drop out of Berlin just over three months ago, but after a month jogging and swimming, she’s so confident that she had asked to be paced to the halfway in 70mins, ie 2:20 pace. More