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World champion’s wife and brother take Dubai Marathon wins

Marathon world champion Tamirat Tola’s wife and brother won the women's and men's races

Dubai Marathon Photo by: Dubai Marathon/Facebook

On Sunday, the Dubai Marathon took place for the first time since 2019, and the men’s and women’s winners have something in common (besides being marathon champions): they’re a married couple, which is unusual in itself, but they are related to reigning marathon world champion Tamirat Tola. Tola’s younger brother Abdisa Tola took the top spot in the men’s race in 2:05:42, while his wife, Dera Dida, ran to the women’s crown in 2:21:11. Their wins in Dubai are the first marathon victories for both Abdisa and Dida.

The family business

The younger Tola took a big step toward following in his brother’s footsteps as a marathon champion, as Dubai was his debut at the distance. Despite his inexperience, Abdisa was far from overlooked as he entered the race, not only because of his name, but also due to his impressive half-marathon PB of 59:54. Amazingly, Abdisa’s new marathon PB ranks as only the 49th-fastest result in Ethiopia’s history, and he still had more than two minutes to catch his brother, who owns a PB of 2:03:39.

Heading into Dubai, Dida had three marathons under her belt and a PB of 2:21:45 (which she also ran in Dubai, in 2018). While she had proven herself as a threat in different races and at other distances (she claimed silver at the 2019 world cross-country championships), her best finish in a marathon was fifth. She had something to prove in Dubai, and she delivered, shaving more than 30 seconds off her PB.

In many cases in sport, it can be tough for an athlete to climb out from under the shadow of a family member’s successes, but neither Abdisa nor Dida look like they’ll have problems making their own marks in the running world.

The race

After the first half of the men’s race, Abdisa found himself with 12 other runners. Nine kilometres later, the group had dwindled to eight, and with two kilometres to go, the pack was cut down to four. Abdisa’s compatriot Deresa Gelete made what could have been a race-winning move at the 40K drinks station, opting not to grab a drink and instead take sole possession of the lead.

Gelete couldn’t hold onto first place for long, and soon enough, Abdisa came charging after him, eventually making the pass and taking the win nine seconds ahead of Gelete. Six seconds after Gelete crossed the line, fellow Ethiopian Haymanot Alew stopped the clock to round out the podium.

On the women’s side, the lead pack consisted of 11 runners at 21K, and by 30K that number dropped to eight. Over the next 10K, Dida and 2019 Tokyo Marathon champion Ruti Aga picked things up, covering the distance in under 33 minutes. With 2K to go, Dida had a small gap over Aga, and she managed to lengthen it in the closing kilometres, eventually crossing the line 13 seconds ahead of her compatriot. Just over 30 seconds later, Siranesh Yirga locked in third place to make it another all-Ethiopian podium.

For full results from Dubai, click here.

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