Now ranked second in the world behind only the London Marathon, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will take to the streets of the emirate on Friday ready to add to an already impressive roll of honour.
According to industry website All-Athletics.com - considered athletics’ most comprehensive database - last year’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon ranked higher than marathons in cities such as Berlin, Boston and New York, taking into account factors such as the overall results and times of both the elite men and women’s events as well as the world rankings of the elite runners themselves.
While London and Dubai fill the top two places in the rankings followed by Tokyo, Berlin, New York and Chicago respectively, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Boston make up the rest of the top ten ranked marathons in the world.
With a world-class field already assembled for Dubai’s 2016 edition, the first race of this Olympic year over the classic 42.195km distance is expected to produce yet another fiercely-contested battle in both categories.
Such is the standing of the event, IAAF President Lord Coe has accepted an invitation to help present the prizes, while Marathon world record holder and running legend Paula Radcliffe will also be in Dubai to provide expert commentary for the live TV coverage.
Around 30,000 runners are expected to take to the streets across the Marathon, the 10km Road Race and the 4km Fun Run, as 1,000 volunteers - the most ever assembled for the event - work alongside hundreds of Dubai government officials to provide a safe and memorable race.
Julian Wynter, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank UAE said: “Globally, Standard Chartered Bank sponsors nine marathons in some of the most exciting cities across our footprint in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and we are delighted to continue partnering with the event organisers to bring this flagship sporting event to the UAE. This year’s gathering will mark the 12th year for Standard Chartered sponsoring the Marathon, which is a testimony of being Here for the long run, Here for good.
“The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon has become a world-class event bringing interna-tional athletes to compete and people from all walks of life to run for a reason. We are looking forward to another successful event on Friday.”
Staged under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and held under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see six former champions in a field which contains 28 men who have all run sub 2:10 races.
Such is the strength of the event that since running legend Haile Gebrselassie won in 2008, seven men have all bettered Gebrselassie’s winning time which - eight years ago - was the second fastest in marathon history.
“There are a number of factors that have helped place the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon at the forefront of international distance running,” said Event Director Peter Connerton. “The initiative of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to increase the prize money through the Dubai Sports Council and the subsequent participation of Haile Gebrselassie from 2008 to 2010 saw the event move to a new level.
“Since then, we have continually seen our stats and figures break new ground - the first mara-thon to have five men finish the same race in sub 2:05, the first race to have three women break 2:20 in the same event - so it’s pleasing to see this reflected in the event’s global stand-ing. Hopefully, we can continue to push on and emphasise the standing of sport in Dubai.”
Such is the demand from a global audience, this Friday’s race will be beamed to an international global audience watching live TV all over the world from South America to China, while online fans can catch the action live through a streaming feed on the event’s official website www.dubai.marathon.org.
“Thanks to the support of the government of Dubai, we have enjoyed a boom in the global popularity of the Dubai Marathon,” said Event General Co-ordinator and President of the UAE Athletics Federation Ahmed Al Kamali. “To be ranked second in the world after just 16 years is a wonderful achievement when you consider the long histories of the marathons staged in the other great cities in the top ten.”
While the elites will spar for the overall marathon title, runners from Dubai-based companies such as Dubai Holding will all be determined to do well for a variety of reasons, including health and fitness.
Cedric Betis, Chairman of Dubai Holding Wellness Committee, commented: “This year’s race marks ten years of Dubai Holding’s partnership with the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in encouraging fitness not only among our employees but also among the wider community. There is a lot of excitement amongst people across Dubai Holding as we look forward to rep-resent the largest corporate team at this weekend’s races – an unprecedented number of more than 3,000 runners.”
He added: “Dubai Holding’s Corporate Wellness Programme has played a huge motivational role, assisting employees and their families to rise up to the challenge. Once again, we are thrilled at the prospect of raising funds for Al Jalila Foundation, supporting the UAE Nationals with special prizes and positively impacting the health of the UAE population for years to come.”
Also enjoying their ongoing involvement with the first IAAF Gold Label race in the Middle East is adidas, one of the world’s biggest global brands and the Official Outfitter for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
Jad Chouman, Senior Brand Director, adidas Middle East and North Africa, said: “At adidas, we believe that sport has the power to change lives. We are proud to be at this seminal running event again to celebrate the spirit that each participant brings to the Marathon. These individuals – our athletes and our consumers – are at the heart of everything we do and we wish every runner the very best of luck on Friday.”
Last minute runners can still register in person at run number collection at Meydan on Thursday (January 21) from 10am to 5pm with payment by credit card only. In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Oasis, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA.