Ethiopia continued their dominance in the capital of the UAE at the Dubai Marathon.
The women’s race provided an exciting sprint finish, with Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia taking her third win in Dubai. She was the 2011 and 2012 winner, before taking time off to have a child. Two Kenyans, Gladys Cherono and Lucy Kabuu, finished second and third.
Mergia edged Cherono by only one second, running 2:20:02 in her return to the marathon. Kabuu finished third in 2:20:21.
On the men’s side, a relative unknown, Lemi Berhanu Hayle, who is only 20 years old, won the men’s race with a strong final-kilometre kick to outrun veteran Lelisa Desisa, who finished second. Desisa won in Dubai and Boston in 2013. Deribe Robi completed the men’s podium sweep for Ethiopia. Hayle’s time was a world-leading 2:05:28.
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Kenenisa Bekele, the world’s 5,000 and 10,000m world record holder, dropped out after 36K with a reported achilles injury.
The race, which took place late Thursday night, Canadian time, has risen quickly to become a hotspot for marathoners to run fast, early-season times and take home the largest prizes in marathoning. Each champion went home with $200,000.