Dubai (UAE): Haile Gebrselassie clinched the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon title for the third successive year yesterday (Friday) but it was a hard-fought victory in a relatively slow time of 2h:06m:09s.
 
All the pre-race talk had been of a new record but Gebrselassie’s world best time of 2h:03m:59s was never under serious threat after a pre-race back problem put paid to his chances of collecting a $1 million bonus offered by Dubai Holding.
 
“I woke up with a sore back and immediately went to see my physio,” said Gebrselassie after finishing 24 seconds ahead of compatriot Chala Dechase Beyene, who claimed a new personal best of 2h:06m:33s. Third home was another Ethiopian Eshetu, again in a personal best time of 2h:06m:46s.
 
“I slept in an awkward position and didn’t feel right for the first 15km. By the half way stage I just wanted to win the race – the spectators at the finish are amazing and I knew that if Haile Gebrselassie were not on the podium it would be a big shock for them!”
 
Despite achieving the hat-trick, Gebrselassie failed by a big margin to challenge his 18-month-old world record in an attempt which never really got under way. The race began at a slow pace and the nearest the pacemakers got to the world record pace was 38 seconds when the pack went through the 9km mark.
 
As the more than 2,000 marathon runners ran along the Dubai coast line, the race went even further off schedule and instead of it passing through the halfway point in the world record target time of 61:59, a pack of seven went through in a time of 62:51.
 
Gebrselassie seemed to have another success sewn up when breaking clear after 31km but received a shock when fellow countryman Dechase came on his shoulder just over 2km later.
 
However he didn’t panic and finally pulled away on his own just after 37km to take the $250,000 first prize and the winner’s trophy which he received from HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Olympic Committee.
 
In the women’s Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska won a much closer women’s race by eight seconds from fellow Ethiopian Aberu Shewaye in 2h:24m:18s with Helena Kiprop of Kenya third in 2h:24m:54s.
 
“It was my dream to win this race so I am very happy,” said Daska, who, despite appearing in distress as she broke the finish tape, claimed to find the race “a lot of fun.”
 
Sponsored by Standard Chartered and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon saw over 12,000 runners pounding the streets in the Marathon, the 10km and the 3km ‘Seeing Is Believing’ Fun Run.
 
Taking the title in the men’s 10km was Morocco’s Othmane Chaibi who clocked 31m:59s with Egypt’s Ahmed El Sayed second (32m:23s) and Moroccan Aradi Ibra third in 32m:53s.
 
In the women’s event, Britain’s Emma Philips successfully defended her 10km crown by winning in 37m:11s, more than two minutes ahead of Dubai Holding runner Jane Westley (39m:47s) with Debbie Powell third in 39m:55s.

“To have the world record holder Haile Gebrselassie win our event for the third straight year is a great honour,” said Standard Chartered Bank Regional CEO Middle East and North Africa Shayne Nelson. “ He didn’t manage to break the world record but he still proved he is a magnificent champion and we look forward to having him compete in Dubai for many years to come.”
 
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by Dubai Holding, Dubai Sports Council, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, ARN and DMI, TNT, Fitness First, Men’s Fitness, Plan B, Vittel Water, RTA, Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Emergency Services.

Prize Money

MEN –
 1. Haile GEBRSELASSIE, ETH   2.06.09 – ($250,000)
 2. Chala DECHASE, ETH        2.06.33  – $100,000
 3. Eshetu WENDIMU, ETH       2.06.46 – $50,000
 4. Abiyote GUTA, ETH         2.09.03 –$25,000
 5. Debele TULU, ETH          2.09.43 – $15,000
 7. Dejene YIRDAW, ETH        2.10.50 – $13,000
 10. Yimane MEKONNEN, ETH      2.12.39 –$10,000
 
WOMEN –
 1. Mametu DASKA, ETH        2.24.18 – $250,000
 2. Aberu SHEWAYE, ETH       2.24.26 – $100,000
 4. Bezunesh BEKELE, ETH     2.26.05 – $25,000
 6. Askale MAGARSA, ETH      2.27.29 –$14,000
 7. Tedesse YESHIMEBET, ETH  2.27.45 –$13,000
 8. Genet GETANEH, ETH       2.30.23 –$12,000
 9. Woyshinet TAFA, ETH      2.32.06 –$11,000
10. Shuru DIRIBA, ETH        2.32.36 – $10,000
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