With 10 men with personal bests of 2:07 or better in the elite start at the 21st Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday, first-time marathoners ended up taking the top two podium spots. Though fans kept expecting the pack of a dozen runners to break up at some point, it never happened, and the ensuing cat-and-mouse game culminated with 20-year-old Olika Adugna of Ethiopia, in his marathon debut, breaking the tape in 2:06:15 (and collecting a prize of US $100,000). Another first-timer, Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui, 30, took the second podium spot in 2:06:17. Tsedat Abeje of Ethiopia was third, in 2:06:18, a personal best.
— Cuan Walker (@runwithcuan) January 24, 2020
Adugna finished fifth in the 10,000m at the 2018 U20 world championships, and achieved his 61:43 half-marathon personal best at the Boulogne-Billancourt Half-Marathon in France in 2018.
Kiptanui took a break from running for about five years, but came back to run a 3:37 over 1,500m and win two half-marathons–at Berlin in 2018 (in 58:42, the seventh-fastest time ever recorded) and the Barcelona Half in 2019. He was one of 41 pacers to help Eliud Kipchoge to a 1:59 marathon in Vienna last year, as well as to his fourth victory at the London Marathon in 2019. Kiptanui led the pack briefly around the 28K mark and again near the end, but couldn’t sustain his lead through the finish line.
Astonishingly fast mass finish here at 21st Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon…! There were actually 11 men inside 2:07.00 & prize money “only” went to 10th – so imagine running 2:06 & getting ZERO $ in prize…! 🤔🤬 pic.twitter.com/EpziTdHSEZ
— Tim Hutchings (@TimHutchings1) January 24, 2020
The effects of this mass finish were that the man who finished 11th (Beshah Yerssie of Ethiopia) ran 2:06:34, because the race rewards only the top 10 with prize money, earned nothing for his efforts. It may well be the fastest 11th-place finish in history.
Solomon Deksisa (who won both Hamburg and Mumbai in 2018 and was second at Amsterdam in 2019) had a disappointing race, struggling to hang onto the back of the lead pack and finishing well down in the results, in 2:15:58.
Worknesh Degefa sizzles to 2:19:38 at the Dubai Marathon whilst an unprecedented 11 men ran under 2:07.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) January 24, 2020
Degefa dominates the women’s race from wire to wire
The women’s race couldn’t have been more different. As expected, Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa, who won the 2019 Boston Marathon in a similar manner, strode out in front, opening up a good lead early in the race. Degefa’s personal best of 2:17:41 (the Ethiopian national record) was more than two minutes faster than her closest competitor, and she knows the course better than anyone, having won her debut here in 2017, finished fourth in 2018, and second last year (where she earned her PB). Degefa broke the tape in 2:19:37, more than half a minute ahead of Guteni Shone in second place (2:20:10) and Bedatu Hirpa in third in 2:21:53.
Marcel Hug scores a three-peat
Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won his third consecutive victory in 1:22:25. Zhang Yong of China finished a second later, having drafted behind Hug for much of the race, with a huge personal best of 1:22:26. Hiroyuki Yamamoto of Japan was third, in 1:28:40.
Sandra Graf of Switzerland won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:42:43. Vanessa de Souza of Brazil was second in 1:44:31, and Margriet van den Broek of the Netherlands was third in 2:04:55.