Mare DibabaThe 12th Xiamen International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race and the first IAAF Label Road race of any hue in 2014, saw a course record from Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba on Thursday (2). Under a cloudy sky and with temperatures just under 20 degrees Celsius, the weather was very suitable for fast times and Dibaba made her intentions clear from the gun, by running away from the other women very early in the race.

The 24-year-old, who can boast of a personal best of 2:19:52 from the 2012 Dubai Marathon but who was racing in her first marathon in 17 months, had already dropped the others well before the 10km mark. She passed 10km in 33:33, 15km in 50:03 and 20km in 1:06:10 and up to half way was clearly aiming to go under 2:20 and for a personal best. However, running completely alone but cheered on by the spectators thronging the route through the coastal city in Fuijan province,, she tied up slightly during the second half of her race and produced splits of 1:22:41 for 25km, 1:39:19 for 30km, 1:56:24 for 35km and 2:13:59 for 40km. Dibaba crossed the line in 2:21:36 and comfortably broke the course record 2:22:38 set by 18-year-old Zhang Yingying of China for a world junior best in 2008, It was Dibaba’s first marathon win in the seven she has finished during her career.

Behind Dibaba, her 26-year-old countrywoman Meseret Legese also made a breakthrough. She had run two good marathons in 2012: 2:28:01 in San Diego and 2:28:18 in Paris, but had been unable to dip under 2:30 during the 2013 season. In this race, Legese was running alone in second place for much of the race and clocked a big personal best of 2:26:36.

Emebet Etea completed an all-Ethiopian women’s podium when finishing in third in 2:33.51. Read more