Athletics: Abshero, Medessa win Dubai Marathon

AP, Friday 27 Jan 2012

Ayele Abshero of Ethiopia won the Dubai Marathon on Friday with the fourth-fastest time ever in his first marathon, giving his country a victory over rival Kenya in an Olympic year


The 21-year-old Abshero also set the course record in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 23 seconds. He shaved 30 seconds off the course record set by Haile Gebrselassie in 2008.

Abshero moved to the front of a pack at 21.1 miles, then pulled away from Dino Sefir Kemal, who finished 27 seconds back. Markos Geneti of Ethiopia was third in 2:04:54, completing an Ethiopian sweep.

“I knew it would be a very hard race and very tactical race,” Abshero said.

In the women’s race, defending champion Aselefech Mergia made it an Ethiopian double, holding off Lucy Kabuu of Kenya by just three seconds in 2:19:31.

“This is special day for me,” Mergia said. “Last year, I was first and then again this year. It brings me great happiness.”

Mare Dibaba was third, 21 seconds behind the leader.

Abshero moved up to the marathon after breaking the hour mark in a half marathon in The Hague last year.

Abshero was among a group of 30 who led early in the $1 million marathon that started in the shadows of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The mostly flat route took runners along the Persian Gulf coast where the lead back was reduced to nine and then four before finishing at the Burj Khalifa.

Patrick Makau broke the world record last year with a time of 2:03:38 at the Berlin Marathon, shaving 21 seconds off the old mark held by Gebrselassie. A month later, Wilson Kipsang ran the second fastest time in history with 2:03:42 at the Frankfurt Marathon, 17 seconds better than Gebreselassie’s time in Berlin in 2008.

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