(IAAF) – Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu emerged as the unexpected champion at the 2015 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, crossing the line at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in a world-leading time and big personal best of 2:05:28 on Friday (23)
It was not a debutants’ triumph as has been the case for the past three years but it was definitely surprise as the 21-year-old Ethiopian – wearing a bib with his extended family name of Hayle on it – left behind some of the biggest names in long-distance running.
Lelisa Desisa, the 2013 Dubai and Boston Marathon champion, took second in 2:05:52 while Deribe Robi completed the all-Ethiopian podium with a time of 2:06:06.
Fourth was Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa in 2:06:35 followed by two more Ethiopians, Sisay Lemma in a personal best of 2:07:06 and Bazu Worku in 2:07:09. Indeed, the top 12 men were all Ethiopian runners.
Split times of 14:39 for 5km and 29:22 for 10km initially pointed towards a sub-2:04 finishing time.
However, the pacemakers could not sustain the pace and when a group of 15 runners reached the 25km mark in 1:13:57, none of them was left in the race.
Five more runners lost contact during the next five kilometers, among them Kenenisa Bekele.
It was Desisa who surged ahead at the 30km refreshment station to take his bottle. The Ethiopian kept going and five countrymen went with him: Robi, Lemma, Lelisa, Girmay Birhanu and Lemi Berhanu.
Five kilometers from the finish a duel between Desisa, who was also second in New York last November, and Lemi Berhanu developed and the latter was able to drop the much more experienced Desisa with about one kilometer to go.
Dream come true in Dubai
“I would never have thought that I could win this race,” said Berhanu, who had won his debut race in Zurich last year with 2:10:40. “It was my dream to do this in Dubai one day, but not this year! With around one kilometer to go, I sensed that I could succeed.”
He has now improved by more than five minutes and is unbeaten in two races.