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Is Dubai the Coors Field of Marathon Courses?

The Dubai Marathon has been so incredibly fast the last two years, we’re wondering if its stats are inflated somehow. A record five runners broke 2:05 last Friday, led by Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa who used a big kick to win a close race in 2:04:45. Last year, four runners went under 2:05 in the desert. If you add the emperor Haile Gebrsellassie’s 2:04:53 in 2008, a total of 10 runners have gone sub-2:05 in Dubai. That compares with 17 who’ve done it at all other marathons combined.

Aside from Haile, none of the runners with amazing Dubai times have done much on other courses. Granted, four of the five who broke 2:05 this year were making their marathon debut, and may go on to great careers. But last year’s top three of Ayele Abshiro, Dino Sefir and Markos Geneti all made Ethiopia’s Olympic team on the strength of their Dubai times, and all three DNF’d at the London Games. Fourth place finisher Jonathan Maiyo of Kenya has not broken 2:09 elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see how the Dubai alumni perform in 2013. Abshero is next up in the star-studded London field on April 21.

Total sub-2:05 performances:
Dubai – 10
Berlin – 7
Rotterdam – 6
Boston – 4
Chicago – 2
Frankfurt – 2
London – 2


2 Comments

  1. JoeGarland says:

    “four of the five who broke 2:05 this year were making their marathon debut”: What are their HM PRs?

    It’s “Boston*”.

  2. gregg says:

    Joe: Two of the four – Desisa and Koech – both have been in the 59s in the half, so obviously they’re major talents. Shiferaw has a 1:01 but is only 19! Still, it’s rare to see even guys that good open up so quickly in the marathon. Makau and others needed a few tries to get it right.

    On Boston*, you are so right! I didn’t want to get into it. All four were in 2011, with the big tailwind,

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