Ethiopia duo Lemi Berhanu and Worknesh Degefa will both return for the 2019 edition of the Dubai Marathon, which will be run on January 25.
Berhanu, the 2015 men’s champion, and Degefa, who triumphed in the women’s race in 2017, are the biggest names in a strong elite field for the 20th edition of the event.
The 24-year-old Berhanu has saved his strongest career performances for the streets of Dubai. Aside from his 2015 victory in a time of 2:05:28, he set his personal best at the event when as defending champion he finished runner-up in 2016 in 2:04:33.
Among the leading elite women is Degefa, who stunned the athletics world in 2017 by winning on her marathon debut in Dubai.
The Ethiopian came out on top from a strong field in a time of 2:22:36, though here defence last year saw her fail to finish in the top three – despite setting a personal best of 2:19:53. It was the first marathon in which the top four women all set sub-2:20 times.
“It’s very unusual that a runner will break the 2:20 mark and not win a marathon,” said event director Peter Connerton.
“But that just shows how deep the quality runs in our elite fields. Last year we had seven men break 2:05 – a unique result in marathon history – so the athletes competing in Dubai know they have to be at their very best to get among the medals.”