Meleselech Melkamu and Meseret Hailu are ready to attack the 2:20 barrier in Friday’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Race. The respective marathon best performances of the two Ethiopian stars are only eight seconds apart.
While Melkamu will be the fastest in the field on Friday with 2:21:01, Hailu’s PB stands at 2:21:09.
“We want to run fast, we want to run sub 2:20 and we will work together,” said Meselech Melkamu on the eve of the race.
“To run below 2:20 is our goal, this is why we have come to Dubai,” said Meseret Hailu, with Meselech Melkamu taking on the role of interpreter. 18 women have so far broken the prestigious 2:20 barrier in marathon history. In Dubai three runners have achieved that feat with the course record standing at Aselefech Mergia’s (Ethiopia) time 2:19:31 in 2012.
“Dubai has a very flat course. And I am happy to have chosen this race. We have watched the marathon on TV in the past,” said Meseret Hailu, who is the reigning World Half Marathon Champion (2012) and won the Amsterdam Marathon in October 2012 with a course record of 2:21:09.
For 23 year-old Hailu it will be the first marathon since she dropped out of the World Championships’ marathon in Moscow last August.
“I had a foot injury, which forced me to stop,” said Hailu, who grew up in Bekagre which is in western Ethiopia. “In the future I hope to run 2:18 in the marathon.”
While Hailu has been road racing for her entire career, Melkamu had great success on the track during the first part of her career. The 28 year-old, who originally comes from Deber Markas and now lives in Addis Abeba, is still the African 10,000 m record holder with 29:53.80.
The pair began training together in 2012 in Addis Abeba. Also in their group is a the former Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon Champion: Bezunesh Bekele who won in 2009 with 2:24:02.
A week after Hailu won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2012, Melkamu broke another course record in a major race: She won her marathon debut in Frankfurt with 2:21:01 despite freezing conditions. Melkamu then finished fifth in London with 2:25:46 but dropped out of the World Championships’ marathon.
“I developed a foot problem in London, so I was not at my best there. Then in Moscow I dropped out because it was so hot.”
Comparing the courses Melkamu said: “In London there are some ups and downs. Frankfurt is faster, but there are quite a few corners. I think Dubai has the best course.
“It is flat and the route is straight, which makes a difference,” said 28 year-old Melkamu, who had been on the start list for the Frankfurt Marathon in 2013 but then had to withdraw because of a leg injury.
“In the future my goal is to run 2:17 in the marathon,” she added, setting her sights high but with the pedigree to suggest this is no pipe dream.
The Standard Chartered DubaiMarathon will start at 7 am (local time) and will be shown live on the internet at: www.dubaimarathon.orgTo send email correction or further classifications, please shoot us an email at lcummings [at] world-track.org.