Tamirat Tola Sets Dubai Marathon Course Record In 2:04:10, No. 9 All-Time
(FloTrack) — Tamirat Tola was the only survivor of a grueling early pace tonight in Dubai. Six competitors and two pacemakers went through halfway under 62 minutes, and Tola was the only one to finish under 2:06. He crossed the line in 2:04:10, making him the third fastest Ethiopian ever and the ninth fastest man ever on a record-legal course. (The 2011 Boston Marathon, forever a scourge on the record books, means that Tola is the No. 11 performer ever in all conditions.)
Tola’s run also broke the 2:04:23 course record, which was run in 2012 in much more hospitable conditions. It was in the 50s that year; it’s 72 in Dubai right now, at least 20 degrees warmer than ideal.
The weather, pace, and maybe a bizarre injury at the start knocked out Tola’s countryman Kenenisa Bekele just over halfway through the race. After the race, Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens told the broadcast said that Bekele was pushed from behind, fell, and injured his arm and calf right at the start of the race. Hermens said that on the broadcast that the gun went off at the start with no notice, which caused the crash.
But it was a breakout performance for the 25-year-old Tola, if it’s possible to break out after winning an Olympic medal. Tola hadn’t run a marathon since finishing fourth in Dubai in 2:06 in 2014. His focus on the track worked in 2016, as he ran 26:57 at the Prefontaine Classic and finished third in the 10K at the Olympics. His win is worth $200,000, and he missed a $50,000 bonus for breaking 2:04 by just ten seconds. Runner-up Mule Wasihun ran 2:06:46, and no one else broke 2:08.
Tola hung in the lead pack for the first half of the race, and between 25K and 30K, he and the rabbit broke away from the field. Rabbit Amos Kipruto dropped out just after 30K, and Tola was left with a one-minute lead that only grew.
With the hot conditions and hotter early pace, only six men broke 2:10.
Worknesh Degefa wins Dubai women’s marathon, 2017
In the women’s race, Worknesh Degefa beat pre-race favorite Shure Demise, finishing in 2:22:35. Demise was 22 seconds behind in second place. It was Degefa’s marathon debut. Like Tola, the 26-year-old won $200,000 for her efforts. Degefa’s debut is the eleventh fastest marathon debut ever.
We’ll have the full race video shortly.
Worknesh Degefa’s marathon debut was a rousing success as she ran 2:22:36 to win the 2017 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and $200,000, the largest first-place prize in the sport.
Degefa was one of the world’s best half-marathoners prior to her debut in Dubai (66:14 pb, #8 all-time) and now she’s one of the best marathoners, but her victory here was not an easy one.
Nine Ethiopian women hit halfway in 1:11:06 under cloudy conditions and 69-degree weather. By 25k (15.5 miles), the lead pack was down to seven. By 30k it was a two-woman race as Degefa and Shure Demise (Ware) (2:20:59 pb, two-time defending Toronto champ) had separated from the rest of the women after running the fastest 5k split of the day – 16:35 from 25k to 30km.
They had two male pacers in front of them and one behind. Degefa broke away from Demise between 30 and 35km, opening up a 23-second lead (16:50 5k for Degefa). Four and a half miles separated her from the largest prize in marathoning.
Four and a half miles is a long way in the marathon, especially a debut, and Degefa began to slow even more. She ran 35k to 40k in 17:24 and Demise cut the deficit from 23 seconds to 10. Would Degefa fall apart the final 2km or would she be able to rally?
Rally was the answer as she managed to cover the final 2.1k at 17:02 5k pace, enough to give her a 22-second victory over Demise as Ethiopians swept the top nine places.
That made the Ethiopian-heavy crowd at the finish very happy.
We were excited to see what Degefa, who had won several high-profile half marathons and has broken 69:00 13 times in her career, could do today and she didn’t disappoint with a terrific victory that will help her bank account as well as her profile. It’s unusual for someone to run as many half marathons as Degefa had (23) without making a marathon debut, but the 26-year-old’s career has gone very well to this point, so perhaps she was right to avoid rushing into the distance. Now she’s got one big payday in her pocket and as a 2:22 marathoner/Dubai champ, she’s likely to command a nice appearance fee from her next marathon.
Quick Take #2: A great day for coach Gemedu Dedefo, whose stable of elite marathoners grows even deeper
Last year, Dedefo’s athletes (Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Atsede Baysa) swept the victories at the Boston Marathon and he picked up another sweep today in Dubai with two different runners as Degefa and men’s winner Tamirat Tola are both coached by him. As the coach of many of Ethiopia’s top talents, Dedefo has has plenty of success in Dubai over the years. His athletes also swept the titles in 2015 (Hayle and Aselefech Mergia), claimed the men’s crown in 2014 (Tsegaye Mekonnen) and the women’s title in 2013 (Tirfi Tsegaye).
1 Tamirat Tola (ETH) 2:04:11
2 Mule Wasihun (ETH) 2:06:46
3 Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:08:04
4 Sisay Jigsa (ETH) 2:08:09
5 Mark Lokwanamoi (KEN) 2:08:39
6 Mekuant Ayenew (ETH) 2:09:23
7 Azmeraw Bekele (ETH) 2:10:22
8 Chele Dechasa (ETH) 2:10:24
9 Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:11:16
10 Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 2:11:54
1 Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 2:22:36
2 Shure Demise (ETH) 2:22:57
3 Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:23:13
4 Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:24:04
5 Hirut Tibebu (ETH) 2:25:12
6 Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:26:58
7 Shuko Genemo (ETH) 2:28:16
8 Tigist Teshome (ETH) 2:30:09
9 Megertu Ifa (ETH) 2:30:45
10 Anne-Mari Hyrylainen (FIN) 2:32:19