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Kenenisa Bekele falls hard, cramps up, drops out of wild Dubai Marathon

Watch video of the start of the Dubai Marathon where Kenenisa Bekele falls and puts his world record bid in jeopardy.

Dubai Marathon

A planned marathon world record attempt fell short on Friday morning in Dubai.

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records, was scheduled to run at a pace faster than 2:02:57 for the Dubai Marathon but dropped out shortly after the halfway point. The 34-year-old fell at the start and cited calf cramps for his DNF on Friday. (Thursday evening in North America.)

Video of fall


Bekele drops out


It was the second time in three years that Bekele has dropped out of the race. In September, he ran 2:03:03 to win Berlin, the second-fastest marathon of all-time on a record-eligible course prompting many to predict that Dennis Kimetto’s world record was under threat. Bekele will also run London in April.

If he sets a marathon world record, he would be the only man in history to hold all three distance record simultaneously.

RELATED: Man, 73, suffers head injury during half-marathon, runners stop race to help out.

Tamirat Tola, the 10,000m bronze medallist in Rio, won the event in a course record 2:04:11. Worknesh Degefa won the women’s race in 2:22:36 in her first-ever attempt at 42.2K. Both are from Ethiopia and will go home with US$200,000 for the victory. An additional US$250,000 was up for grabs had a world record been set. Dubai is the world’s richest marathon in terms of prize money.

The men’s pack went through 10K in 28:57, well under world record pace, and slowed slightly to 1:01:33 through the halfway point. In an interesting twist, it appeared that the men’s pacer was on track to finish the race but dropped out around 35K as Tola soloed the remainder of the race.

The women’s second-place finisher has a Canadian connection as Shure Demise is the 2015 and 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon champion. She finished 21 seconds behind Degefa in 2:22:57. Friday was Demise’s second-fastest time of her life. The soon-to-be 21-year-old (Jan. 21 is her birthday) is the world junior record holder (2:20:59) in the marathon. Seven women broke the 2:30 barrier on a course that includes only four turns, including two hairpins.

Dubai Marathon
Dubai 20/01/2017 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2017 – Maratona di Dubai2017,Nella foto: – Foto Giancarlo Colombo/A.G.Giancarlo Colombo

In another Canadian connection, 85-year-old Ed Whitlock, who is originally from Britain, was mentioned during the British broadcast.

RELATED: Application window now open to enter the 2017 New York City Marathon.

The race began early on Friday morning to avoid the sweltering heat of the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. The marathon attracted some of the top East African runners though it was also open to runners of all abilities.

Top results


1 Tamirat Tola (ETH) 2:04:11
2 Mule Wasihun (ETH) 2:06:46
3 Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:08:04
4 Sisay Jigsa (ETH) 2:08:09
5 Mark Lokwanamoi (KEN) 2:08:39
6 Mekuant Ayenew (ETH) 2:09:23
7 Azmeraw Bekele (ETH) 2:10:22
8 Chele Dechasa (ETH) 2:10:24
9 Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:11:16
10 Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 2:11:54


1 Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 2:22:36
2 Shure Demise (ETH) 2:22:57
3 Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:23:13
4 Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:24:04
5 Hirut Tibebu (ETH) 2:25:12
6 Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:26:58
7 Shuko Genemo (ETH) 2:28:16
8 Tigist Teshome (ETH) 2:30:09
9 Megertu Ifa (ETH) 2:30:45
10 Anne-Mari Hyrylainen (FIN) 2:32:19

Full results.