It is Defar v Dibaba once again

Meseret Defar and Tirunesh DibabaThe Great North Run’s women’s race will not be overshadowed though as, for the first time, the Ethiopian female giants of long distance running, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, will meet in the Half Marathon.

After running separate events in the World Championships – Dibaba won the 10,000m and Defar took the 5,000m – the two Ethiopians ran against each other in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich at the end of last month.

Here Defar beat Dibaba, but Dibaba showed she still is in top form when she clocked an Ethiopian record over the 10km on the roads in the Dutch city of Tilburg, clocking 30:30, just a few days later.

Dibaba, now 27, will also return to the Great North Run as the defending champion. A year ago she clocked 67:35, one of the fastest Half Marathon debut times and Sunday’s race will just be her second tilt at this distance.

Defar, who is two years older, has run two Half Marathons so far. She won on her debut in Philadelphia 2010 with 1:07:45, then she improved winning in 1:07:25 in New Orleans this past February.

However, there is one runner on the start list who might potentially steal the show from the Ethiopian pair, Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo. She improved to 106:11 this year, when she was second in the RAK Half Marathon and she then went on to win the London Marathon.

Behind the three Africans, there are three Europeans who could do well: Portugal’s Jessica Augusto, Croatia’s Lisa Stublic and Great Britain’s Gemma Steel.

As a prelude to the Great North Run, there are the Great North City Games on Saturday, which will be staged alongside the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle. Read more


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