Former champions Lemi Berhanu and Worknesh Degefa will be among the elites to line-up when the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon celebrates its 20th edition on the streets of the Dubai on January 25, 2019.
The two Ethiopians – winners in 2015 and 2017 respectively – are key figures in the Middle East’s biggest mass participation event, the only IAAF Gold Label marathon in the region.
Lemi has performed well on the global stage but his best performance has always been on the flat and fast streets of Dubai, as well as winning the title four years ago registering a time of 2:05:28. He has set his personal best of 2:04:33 when finishing in a runner-up position in 2016.
Still only 25, Lemi represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Championships Beijing in 2015 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games finishing in the top 15 on both occasions. He has also prospered in marathon distance in China winning in Hengshui last year with 2:08:51, Xiamen in 2017 with 2:08:27 and Taiyuan in 2014 with 2:13:10.
Worknesh Degefa surprised many in 2017 by winning the Dubai marathon on her debut, beating a strong field of experienced marathon runners with a time of 2:22:36.
Although she did not retain her title 12 months later, Worknesh finished fourth with a personal best of 2:19:53 in a race in which the top four women finished within 2:20:00 – the first time the feat has ever been achieved.
“It’s very unusual that a runner will break the 2:20 mark and not win a marathon,” said event director Peter Connerton. “But that just shows how deep the quality runs in our elite fields. Last year, we had seven men break 2:05 – a unique result in marathons history – so the athletes competing in Dubai know they have to be at their very best to get among the medals.”