Mer­gia and Dibaba set for a su­per show­down

Another strong field is tak­ing shape

Sport360 - - Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon | Football - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ed­i­to­

Two of the world’s lead­ing marathon run­ners Ase­le­fech Mer­gia and Mare Dibaba will go head-to-head in the women’s event when the Stan­dard Char­tered Dubai Marathon gets un­der way on Jan­uary 26.

Mer­gia, who turns 33 just three days be­fore the event, is the great­est fe­male run­ner in the his­tory of the Stan­dard Char­tered Dubai Marathon hav­ing won it three times and set the course record of 2:19:31 in her three ap­pear­ances. It will be her first start in the world’s rich­est marathon since her last vic­tory in the UAE in 2015.

But if the Ethiopian is to main­tain her 100-per-cent-win­ning record, she will need to see off a tal­ented field that in­cludes com­pa­tri­ots Dibaba, Marathon gold medal­ist at the 2015 IAAF World Championships and a bronze medal win­ner at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and de­fend­ing cham­pion Work­nesh Degefa.

With per­sonal bests of 2:19:31 and 2:19:52 re­spec­tively, Mer­gia and Dibaba are the fastest women in the field and their race for the $200,000 first prize will be one of the ma­jor bat­tles to watch in the first big marathon meet­ing of the year.

“We are ex­cited to have two huge tal­ents lead­ing the women’s field,” said Event Di­rec­tor Peter Con­ner­ton. “Ase­le­fech Mer­gia has won eveUnset­tled time she has raced here, while Mare Dibaba has won World Championship and Olympic medals since fin­ish­ing third in Dubai in 2012.”

Held un­der the pa­tron­age of HH Sheikh Ham­dan bin Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and staged un­der the aegis of the Dubai Sports Coun­cil, the Marathon will be staged in con­junc­tion with a 10km Road Race and a 4km Fun Run. Reg­is­tra­tion for all three races can still be made at the of­fi­cial web­site

For the elites, it is the first world­class marathon of the year – and with a rep­u­ta­tion for pro­vid­ing a flat and fast course com­bined with be­nign weather con­di­tions, Dubai is a favourite with the great and the good of long dis­tance run­ning such as three-time cham­pion Mer­gia whose last ap­pear­ance in Dubai was an emo­tional one.

Al­most three years af­ter her last race at the dis­tance and just 18 months af­ter giv­ing birth to her daugh­ter Sena, she out­paced Kenya’s Gla­dys Cherono to win the 2015 Stan­dard Char­tered Dubai Marathon by just one sec­ond in a time of 2:20:02. She re­turns to Dubai fresh from a sold third place fin­ish at last year’s Lon­don Marathon.

Look­ing to thwart Mer­gia’s hope of a fourth Dubai ti­tle, 28 year-old Dibaba is one of the most suc­cess­ful marathon run­ners in the world.

Since step­ping up the 42.195km dis­tance in 2010, she has won the 2014 Chicago Marathon, clinched vic­tory in the Xi­a­men Marathon in China on two oc­ca­sions and won the World Championship’s marathon in Bei­jing in 2015 and the Olympic marathon bronze a year later in Rio.

“We are ex­cited to have two huge tal­ents”

– Con­ner­ton

Win­ning pedi­gree: Ase­le­fech Mer­gia is a three-time Dubai cham­pion.

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