Abera and Tirfi win gold as teammates occupy all podium berths
Ethiopia won all the top 10 spots in the men’s category barring the lone Kenyan entry Samuel Kiplimo Kosgei who finished seventh in a time of 2 hours 06 minutes and 53 minutes. And, in the women’s section, the story was more or less the same where Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete Habtegebrel, of Ethiopian origin, finished sixth with a 2:25:36 registered on the clock.
The men’s champion this year, had the personal satisfaction of recording a personal best for himself when he ran five minutes quicker. He missed out on the course record here by a second. Richer by $200,000 for his gold medal this year, the comparatively unknown Tesfaye Abera Dibaba led the Ethiopian conquest, clocking 2:04:24, edging team-mate Lemi Berhanu Hayle into the silver berth. Berhanu who won the crown in 2015 crossed the finishing line, seven seconds adrift.
Men (all from Ethiopia):
1) Tesfaye Abera Dibaba 2 hours 04 minutes 24 seconds; 2) Lemi Berhanu Hayle 2:04:33; 3) Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa2:04:46; 4) Sisay Lemma Kasaye 2:05:16; 5) Mula Wasihun Lakew 2:05:44.Women (all from Ethiopia): 1) Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene 2:19:41; 2) Amane Beriso Shankule 2:20:48; 3) Meselech Malkamu Haileyesus 2:22:29; 4) Sutume Asefa Kebede 2:24:00; 5) Mulu Seboka Seyfu 2:24:24.
A good 13 seconds behind in third position came long time Ethiopian ace Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa with a time of 2:04:46, followed by his compatriots Sisay Lemma Kasaye ((2:05:16) and Mula Wasihun Lakew (2:05:44).
Unlike the men’s event, the women’s race was more of a one-sided affair as Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene, the 2013 champ, dominated from the midway stage to leave the rest of the field behind by more than a minute. Tirfi’s pace picked up and so did second placed team-mate Amane Beriso Shankule’s final 2km effort, thanks mainly to the wonderful work of their pacemaker specialist Lemme who went back to the silver medallist after spurring Tirfi till 1km away from the finishing point.
Meselech Melkamu Haileyesus got on to the bronze podium for her 2:22:29, two seconds behind the silver medallist (Amane) as Sutume Asefa Kebede and Mulu Seboka Seyfu completed the whitewash for their nation, 4:19 minutes and 4:43 minutes behind the gold medallist (Tirfi), in fourth and fifth positions.
Regarding the prize money, both runners did not have any specifics on how they planned on spending it.
“In 2013, after winning here, I started to build a house and having achieved an important step in life, this $200,000 today (Friday) has come as a bonus. Haven’t given any thought yet,” said Tirfi.
Abera said: “My money, well, I am so happy to have improved on my career best timing by five minutes though missing the course record here today (Friday) was only a second away. So now I am going to think about the placing here and the five minutes and I will leave it to time before deciding on what to do for the cheque for today’s (Friday) work.”
On their aspirations and plans for the Rio Olympics this year, the winners said: “It will be based on our federation’s decision as to who will represent Ethiopia in Rio. If selected, Boston will be our next stop in April, just one race as a pre-Olympic big race preparation. Next after that will be the centralised camp for all of us bound for Rio. It is all a big ‘if’ now.”
Dubai Marathon 2016: As it happened
The initial 5km-10km of the men’s event saw Ethiopian Tenaw Belete Eneyew and Kenyans Aspel Kipsang, Edwin Kibet Koech and Ernest Kiprono Ngeno doing all the pace making, each taking turn at every opportunity, to go up front.
Then we saw Ethiopia display the depth of their contingent when the first trailing bunch comprising Abeyneh Ayele Woldegiorgis, Tebalu Zawude Heyi and Tilahun Regassa Dabe kept increasing their pace to push the leading pack a little harder.
The only non-Ethiopian in the women’s front bunch at the same stage (5km-10km) was Kenya’s Eunice Chebichi Chumba, who was sandwiched between the top runners – Amane, pre-race favourite Tirfi, Meselech and Mestawat Tufa Demisse.
Mestawat briefly took over the reins of controlling the race between the 15km-20km stages and was clocked in the 50min range, in fact all the first six were in the same time zone as the leading bunch among the women runners at that stage. Up front, in the tussle for control in the midway men’s lead pack, Amos Kipruto of Kenya started to assert himself when the race was 43 minutes old.