By Allaam Ousman www.emirates247.com
With the London Olympics just months away, some of the world’s elite distance runners will be competing for glory at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday.
The iconic Burj Khalifa will provide a magnificent backdrop to the biggest ever gathering of athletes in the 13th running of the Dubai marathon.
Emaar Boulevard will be converted into a ‘Marathon City’ with traffic being closed to the public between 5am and 2pm as a record number of over 15,000 runners are expected to compete in the 42km marathon, 10,000km and 3km fun race.
With the weather expected to remain at 18 or 19 degrees celsius and no forecast for rain, the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for the elite field to set a fast pace in one of the flattest marathon courses in the world.
Headlining the quality field for the IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation) Gold Label race will be Kenyan Martin Lel who is gradually getting back to his best after a two-year spell on the sidelines through injury.
Runner-up at last year’s London Marathon, the 33-year-old is one of the greats of the discipline having five major titles to his name thanks to a record-equalling hat-trick of victories in London (2005, 2007 and 2008) and a double in New York (2003 and 2007).
With a personal best of 2:05.15, Lel has the credentials to win on his debut in the world’s richest marathon this week. But he won’t have it all his own way in a race that offers both the men and women’s champion a cheque for $250,000 and is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council. More info and photos