Just over three months since running the second fastest marathon time in history, Ethiopian Olympic legend Kenenisa Bekele has confirmed his appearance at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 20.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist stormed to victory in the Berlin Marathon in September crossing the finish line in 2h:03m:03s, just six seconds short of Dennis Kimetto’s world record (2h:02m:57s).
And after voicing his disappointment at missing out on the world record, Bekele is targeting Dubai for the next chapter in his marathon running career. It will be his second appearance in the world’s richest marathon after an injury forced him to pull up on his Dubai debut in 2015.
“It’s a massive boost to have Kenenisa confirmed for the 2017 staging of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “His performance in Berlin proves that he is now very comfortable at the distance and we know he has unfinished business in Dubai after dropping out here two years ago.”
In Berlin, the former Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion not only took two minutes off his marathon personal best but also set a new Ethiopian national record.
“It was fantastic for me to get a personal best, but I’m still disappointed to have missed out on the world record,” said Bekele, who also finished third (2:06:36) at the London Marathon in 2016.
His performance in Berlin proves that Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57, set in Berlin in 2014 is very much within Bekele’s reach and was the perfect reply to those critics who had been unconvinced by Bekele’s step up to the marathon ranks as well as the Ethiopian selectors who left him out of the nation’s Olympic marathon team for Rio.
Three times in Berlin, eventual runner-up Kipsang led by up to 25m, yet every time Bekele fought back to draw level before he pulled on his reserves to pass Kipsang and take the title. “I knew I had trained well and I knew what my strengths were,” said Bekele, who remains convinced he can run faster than his winning 2:03:03.
“The Berlin race was fantastic but I could see that I still had to make a couple of changes in my training.”
As well as targeting a personal best and course record in Dubai, Bekele – who has 16 World Championship titles to his name and remains World Record holder on the track at both 5,000 and 10,000m – is also giving serious consideration to running the 2017 World Championships. “If the federation select me, I’ll run the Worlds in London,” he added.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by Adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Sport 360, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.
Runners still looking to enter for the marathon, the 10km Road Race or the 4km Fun Run can still register online only.