DUBAI, UAE, Jan 4: Ethiopian running superstars Mamitu Daska and Mula Seboka are the latest big names to join a powerful field of elites for the first world-class marathon of the Olympic year, the 2016 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Jan 22.
With Daska and Seboka — winners of the ladies’ race in Dubai in both 2010 and 2014 — joining compatriot and 2013 Dubai champion Tirfi Tsegaye in the IAAF Gold Label race, the 2016 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will feature three of its last six winners.
To be 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 expected to attract around 30,000 runners across its three events.
But while the 10km and 4km races will be keenly contested, all eyes will be on the Marathon itself as a pack of talented athletes battle for fast times and potential Olympic selection.
Since winning in Dubai in 2010, Daska has lowered her marathon personal best to 2h:21m:59s thanks to victory at the Frankfurt Marathon in 2011, while she also won the Half Marathon title at the All African Games in 2015.
For Seboka, it will be a third straight appearance in Dubai — she followed her 2014 win with fifth place in 2015 and a new personal best of 2h:21m:56s — and the 31 year-old is looking forward to the challenges of one of the flattest and quickest marathon routes in the world.
“Dubai is a very special marathon for me as I was champion in 2014 and I ran my personal best there in 2015,” said Seboka, who claimed fifth in her first World Marathon Major appearance in Chicago in 2015. “I want to come back to run even faster and my whole focus since Chicago has been my return to Dubai.”
Event Director Peter Connerton added that the Middle East’s biggest running event is a powerful draw for the best in the business.
“Dubai is now well established as one of the premier race routes on the calendar, which means it is always high on the list of preferred venues for elite marathon runners,” he said. “Add in the five-star hospitality and typical Arabian hospitality afforded the athletes and it is easy to see why Dubai is a firm favourite with runners and agents alike.”
While entries across the Marathon, the 10km Road Race and the 4km Fun Run are up on previous years, the event is set to attract a record field. And for those who have yet to register, race organisers will offer a festive extension of the closing date for entries.
“The numbers are very strong and we always need a cut off date in order to be able to plan and finalise logistics,” added Connerton. “But due to demand, we have decided to extend the normal cut off deadline of December 31 and those who have yet to register can now do so in the weeks leading up to the race itself by visiting the event’s official website and registering online at www.dubaimarathon.org.”
In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.