Ethiopian, Kenyans sweep podium at Dubai Marathon

DUBAI: Lemi Berhanu Hayle won the 11th Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:05:28 here on Friday ahead of his countryman and top favourite Lelisa Desisa who finished second in 2:05:52, while Aselefech Mergia won the women’s marathon with a time of 2:20:02. Men’s marathon bronze went to Deribe Robi Melka from Ethiopia with a time of 2:06:06. Ethiopians won the first 10 places in the men’s challenge. The runner-up of the women’s challenge was Kenyan Gladys Cherono Kiprono (2:20:03) who delivered a spectacular neck-on-neck race with Mergia. Her 30-year old rival Lucy Kabuu, from Kenya passed the finishing line as third at a time of 2:20:21 in the women’s competition.

The men’s champion Hayle told Xinhua after the race that he did not expect to be first, “but my objective was to be among the first four. However, he added, “the race went very well for me and at kilometre 40, I managed to leave the lead group and felt that this was my victory.” Mergia told Xinhua that “at kilometre 35 I became confident that I will be among the first three. At kilometre 40 the race became tight as Kiprono really pushed me and that gave me also the final motivation to be first.” Thousands of running fans and aficionados, especially from East Africa joined the race to support the runners. The most prominent supporter of the Ethiopian elite runners was Marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie who won the Dubai marathon himself three times. Both the men’s and the women’s winners took each $200,000 home.