Nairobi, Jan 23: Former World marathon bronze medalist Sharon Cherop and Ruth Chepngetich said Wednesday that they are capable of ending 12-year Ethiopian title grip on the Dubai Marathon on Friday.
Speaking in Nairobi prior to their departure to Dubai, Cherop, who holds a personal best of 2:22:28 from Berlin in 2013, believes she has the experience to end Ethiopian reign on her return to Dubai.
"It is seven years since I raced in Dubai. I finished seventh, but the time was fast (2:22:39). Today my goal is to win the race irrespective of who will be running against me," Cherop said.
However, the onus to dethrone the Ethiopians, who have won for the last 12 years in Dubai, will not fall on Cherop alone.
She travels with compatriot Chepngetich, who also has experience running fast time in the marathon circuit.
Ethiopia's winning streak of the women's race in Dubai goes back to the past 12 editions. But that dominance will be under threat on Friday.
Chepngetich surprised the athletics world in November last year when she successfully defended her Istanbul Marathon title, smashing her best time by four minutes with 2:18:35 and moving to equal seventh on the world all-time list.
But while Chepngetich boasts the fastest personal best of the field, Worknesh Degefa is more experienced when it comes to Dubai.
The Ethiopian has contested just two marathons to date, both of which were in Dubai. She won on her debut in 2017 in 2:22:36 and reduced her best time to 2:19:53 one year later to finish fourth in a high-quality race.
Sintayehu Lewetegn (2:22:45) in Frankfurt last year, and Rahma Tusa, who has won four of her nine completed marathons to date, add to the Ethiopian strength in Dubai.
"This will be the 20th time we have staged the marathon in its current format and I have no doubt the athletes will once again provide us with a race worthy of the occasion," said event director Peter Connerton.
"Last year saw new course records in both the men and women's races, while we had seven men finish within two hours and five minutes and four women within 2:20. Those were both unique results in marathon history and emphasized the depth of quality in the fields we put together in Dubai," Connerton said.
There will also be a third Kenyan competing in the men's race. Emmanuel Saina is the lone wolf with a last minute gash of speed.
"The focus is not on me. But I want to hold back and see how fast they run," said Saina.
Guye Adola, who clocked the fastest ever marathon debut in Berlin in 2017 when he finished a close runner-up to Eliud Kipchoge in 2:03:46, is the fastest man in this year's field. Others are Compatriots Asefa Mengstu and Sisay Lemma. (UNI-Xinhua)