Dubai - Ethiopian Tesfaye Dibaba won an
exciting and hard-fought race in the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:24, while South African Gladwin Mzazi failed to
reach his ambition of an Olympic qualifying time.
In a high quality field that
featured 28 athletes who had broken two hours 10 minutes, the lead group of 16
went through halfway in 1:01:16, which put them in line
for dipping under the world record (2:02:57)
Fourteen runners remained on pace
at 25km, but the group was whittled down to eight when they hit 30km in 1:27:30, with
Dibaba content to remain a couple of metres off the pace until the Kenyan
pacers pulled off.
The race thereafter became tactical for the $200 000 first prize, with 2015 winner Lemi Berhanu, Frankfurt winner Sisay Lemma,
Dibaba and world junior record holder and 2014 winner, Tsegaye Mekonnen, breaking
With a drop to $80 000 for
second place, and so many remaining in contention, speculation was that greater
incentive for a world record could have seen the mark being broken.
Dibaba took control over the final
kilometre to break the tape in 2:04:24 with Berhanu (2:04:33) and Mekonnen
(2:04:46) also breaking 2:05. The top seven all finished in under 2:07, the best
overall performance since the cold conditions of 2012.
Dibaba, 24, who came into the race ranked
93rd in the world, recorded the 17th fastest time ever
and is now the 11th fastest athlete over the distance. He missed the Dubai
course record by one second, but sliced over five and a half minutes off his
personal best set in Mumbai one year ago this month.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye also improved her
best by 37 seconds to take the ladies title in 2:19:41, the third fastest time
over the Dubai course.
Tsegaye pulled away after the 30km
mark and extended her lead to finish over a minute clear of debutant Amane
Beriso who came into the race with a best of 68:43 for the half marathon, and
now is equal 50th on the world marathon list.
Third went to Meselech Melkamu,
the second fastest ever 10 000m runner (29:53.80), who ran 2:22:29.
South Africa’s Mzazi was running at a perfect pace for his goal of a 2:11:30 as he went through 25km in
1:17:58. However, with the heat increasing he lost his motivation to chase the 28 runners
“It was very difficult chasing the
big group from the start,” said the Gauteng North athlete.
“After 30km I just
Ironically, at this stage observers
would see him moving through the field and he was 25th when he withdrew
at the 31km mark.
This is part of the challenge to South Africans who could
benefit from running as a group to improve their times as they frequently find
themselves alone in such events.
“Now I will focus on the World
Half (in march in Cardiff), by doing some speed when the 31km is out of my
legs,” said Mzazi who will hope to repeat the 27:56.9 he recorded in
Stellenbosch last year.
“I don’t want to run another
marathon now, so will look to qualify at 10 000m at the SA senior (track)
With the IAAF qualification set at
28 minutes, Mzazi would join Stephen Mokoka and Elroy Gelant, who tends to
prefer the 5 000m, as contenders for the 10 000m track event.