The third fastest winner in the history of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, will be gunning for Olympic legend Kenenisa Bekele and a second win in three years when he lines up at the start of the 2015 event on January 23.
Desisa made history in Dubai in 2013, when not only did he smash the 2:05 barrier on his marathon debut (2h:04m:45s), he led five men across the finish line under that time — an unprecedented achievement.
His time was just 22 seconds outside the Dubai record of 2012 winner Ayele Abshero and Desisa will return to one of his favourite road races armed with plenty of big race experience after building on his Dubai success of two years earlier.
After such a glittering debut, he maintained a busy and successful schedule for the rest of 2013, winning the Boston Marathon three months after his Dubai triumph before taking silver in the World Championship Marathon in Moscow in August.
Although Desisa’s rise was checked when he failed to finish in Boston in 2014, he redeemed himself with second place at the New York Marathon in November. With a win and a runners-up spot in two of the ‘Marathon Majors’ to his name, Dubai’s course should offer the fleet-footed Ethiopian the ideal chance to attack the 2:05 barrier again.
Like superstar compatriot Bekele, who will make his Dubai debut this year, Desisa is yet another talented Ethiopian runner who hails from the Oromia region. Others include Olympic Marathon champions Fatuma Roba and Tiki Gelana and the Dibaba sisters, one of whom — 2011 Chicago Marathon winner Ejegayehu — will also compete in Dubai.
“To have another former champion in the line-up is a great boost for the race and we will be delighted to see Lelisa Desisa back to try and regain his crown,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “His victory in 2013 came in what many marathon writers believe to be the best marathon of all time, so he has fond memories of Dubai.
“He will only be 25 years old when he runs here again and has already shown he is one of the world’s best after just two years of marathon competition. He’ll certainly be one of the favourites and will be determined not to let Kenenisa steal all the headlines.”
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the 2015 Dubai Marathon will feature the classic marathon as well as a 10km Road Race and 4km Fun Run. Runners who would like to take part can still register online only at www.dubaimarathon.org.