Tola & Degefa lead Ethiopian clean sweep in Dubai Marathon
Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola and Worknesh Degefa lead an Ethiopian clean-sweep at the 2017 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon today (Friday) as Kenenisa Bekele’s world record bid fell apart in the opening few strides.
Tola took advantage after pre-race favourite Bekele fell to the ground at the start gun after being tripped in an incident described by the Race Referee as “unintentional contact.”
It was a crushing blow for Bekele after setting his sights on Dennis Kimetto’s World Record. After falling at the start, the three-time Olympic gold medallist found himself back down the field and never really recovered as the leaders accelerated away at world record breaking pace leaving Bekele to drop out at around 23k clutching his left calf.
“I came to Dubai to do something special – however it was not to be,” said a disappointed Bekele. “I fell down at the start and got hurt. I tried to run, but it didn’t work. I just hope to come back to Dubai one day and show what I can do here.”
In the women’s race, Marathon debutante Worknesh Degefa won the $200,000 prize at the first attempt crossing the line in 2:22:36 – the fourth fastest time in the event’s history – with Shure Demise in second (2:22:57) and Yebrgual Melese taking third (2:23:13).
A superlative half-marathoner, Degefa put the extra training distance to good use by running away from all but Demise, one of the pre-race favourites. Demise managed to claw back some of the deficit in the penultimate kilometre, but when she saw Degefa still running strongly, she was forced to settle for second.