Defending champions Tamirat Tola and Worknesh Degefa will lead a world-class field of distance runners when the 2018 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon gets underway on January 26, 2018.
Tola, who set a new course record, 2h:04m:11s, for the world’s richest marathon in January 2017, and fellow Ethiopian Degefa, have confirmed they will join more than 30,000 other runners in the Middle East’s biggest mass participation sporting event in what is a major boost to the organisers.
For Tola – whose win in Dubai is the tenth fastest Marathon time in history – a return to the UAE has always been a high priority. The 2016 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist took more than two minutes off his previous best when winning in Dubai and is convinced he could easily have broken the 2:04 mark on the flat and fast roads of the city.
“It’s a great compliment to Dubai that Tamirat has decided to run in January and not compete in the London Marathon in April,” said Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Race Director Peter Connerton. “He is a wonderful young talent and at 26 has many great years ahead of him, which is why so many race directors would like him in their line-up. The fact he believes he can attack our course again in January and secure yet another personal best can only be good for the event.”
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the marathon will be staged in conjunction with a 10km Road Race and a 4km Fun Run.
For Worknesh Degefa, it will be a welcome return to the scene of her greatest victory – in 2017 she also stormed to first place and the $200,000 prize money with what was a winning marathon debut of 2h:22m:36s, the fourth fastest time in the event’s history.
The diminutive 27 year-old had already shown she was a superlative half-marathon runner over a four-year period prior to stepping up to the longer distance, finishing 17 times in under 70 minutes. Her Dubai success has only strengthened her reputation and she will start as a hot favourite to make it two in a row in the Emirates.
“We will be able to confirm more elite athletes field over the coming two weeks but it is safe to say we are delighted to welcome back the two runners who won both the men and women’s events in 2017,” added Connerton. “We will also be finalising the Marathon route with one or two changes to the course for 2018.”
In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi Natural Water, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.
There is no shortage of top sporting events in the Emirates and here’s our one-stop diary of everything that’s going on — welcome to our weekly feature, What’s Up UAE.
The festive season is approaching and while many have holiday plans in store, there’s still plenty of sport to enjoy in the Emirates.
Are you attending or participating in one of the following events?
Here’s our run-down of some of this week’s sporting events:
Monday, December 25 – Thursday, December 28
After Friday’s 1-0 win over Oman, Alberto Zaccheroni’s next task is against Saudi Arabia on Monday (18:30), who despite fielding a second-string team, overcame hosts Kuwait in their opening Gulf Cup fixture.
The head coach was pleased with the performance against the Reds but insists there’s still a lot of work to do if they want to go all the way in the competition.
Ahead of the game there are no injury doubts, with Zaccheroni expected to name the same side from the win over Oman.
Next up for the UAE after their clash against Saudi Arabia is a meeting with hosts Kuwait on Thursday (21:00).
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CONFERENCE
Wednesday, December 27 – Thursday, December 28
Roma legend Francesco Totti, Altetico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and Barcelona legend Carles Puyol are just some of the marquee names who will feature at this week’s 12th Dubai International Sports Conference.
The annual event has become a key date in the Middle East’s footballing calendar, attracting influential figures in the sport for more than a decade.
This tradition is set to continue at Madinat Jumeirah from December 27-28, with the first night also featuring the eighth edition of the Globe Soccer Awards.
WHERE: Madinat Jumeirah
MORE INFO: Global Soccer Awards
MUBADALA WORLD TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
Thursday, December 28 – Saturday, December 30
With the New Year approaching, it’s almost time for this year’s edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
The world’s top tennis stars, including Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Bautista Agut, Kevin Anderson and Andrey Rublev, will compete in the capital.
This year’s tournament will also feature an exhibition match between 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and an unconfirmed opponent on Saturday December 30
Activities start from midday each day, with the final scheduled for 7pm on Saturday.
Player practices are open to the public, free of charge, so it the Tennis Village.
WHERE: The International Tennis Stadium, Zayed Sports City
MORE INFO: Mubadala
In a healthy mix of rivalry and fun, over 400 participants took part in Sharjah’s first-ever female-only obstacle race titled ‘Challenge Accepted’ on Saturday.
Organised by the Sharjah Girl’s Guide (SGG), the race was held at its Al Bdai’e headquarters.
Contestants were put through a series of obstacles where they had to navigate through water, ice and sand along with some balancing tasks.
The race was divided into two categories with contestants in the age group of 7-12 navigating a 3km course while those aged 13-23 were put through a 4km course.
In a keenly contested race in the junior category, Amna Fouad Annohi emerged as the winner with Shamma Abdelrahim Al Bastaki and Maha Abdelaziz Ahmad finishing in second and third place respectively.
Fatima Al Ali took top honours in the senior category ahead of Sheikha Salem Al Dahmani and Alanood Al Ali.
The top finishers in the two races were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals along with Apple watches and some special offers from the Sharjah Ladies Club.
While the event saw some competitive healthy rivalry on the race track, those that came on to cheer the contestants were welcomed to an array of open-air activities including bouncy castles, inflatable maze challenges, a live escape game and team-building exercises.
“We are extremely proud of everyone who took part in our Challenge Accepted obstacle race, the winners, the runners up and every other competitor. We were delighted with the turnout and hope to see similar initiatives from children’s and youth organisations taking place in Sharjah in the future. We planned for this activity to have a strong element of fun, to encourage them to get involved in fitness activities. What we really want to see as an outcome of this event is more people adopting a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Shaikha Abdulaziz Al Shamsi, Manager of SGG.
Al Shamsi added that hosting the very first obstacle race in Sharjah exclusively for females comes as part of SGG’s vision to involve the community in new initiatives: “We were keen to introduce prospective members to the organisation, especially since we will start accepting membership applications for our new ‘Senior Guides’ category (ages 16-18) from the beginning of the upcoming year.
‘Challenge Accepted’ was sponsored by Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Ladies Club, Sharjah Co-op, Barakat Quality Plus and Virgin Megastore. The activity was the latest community initiative from SGG, which gave birth to the guiding movement in the UAE through its establishment in 1973.
SGG aims to inspire and nurture future generations to become progressive global citizens by providing a platform for girls to develop to their fullest potential. The organisation operates under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.