Former winner and unofficial junior world record holder Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa will return to the scene of his greatest triumph when he lines up at the start of the 2023 Dubai Marathon on February 12.
On his official marathon debut nine years ago, Mekonnen clinched first place as he clocked the fastest time by an 18-year-old runner in two hours, four minutes and 32 seconds, nine seconds shy of the course record and 69 seconds off the world record – a time he was on course to beat at the half-way split.
Twelve months earlier, the young Ethiopian had taken part in Dubai as a pacemaker so the whirlwind start to his marathon career was as unexpected as it was explosive. Two years later he was back running over the streets he described as “life-changing” finishing third in the 2016 Dubai Marathon.
Still the youngest winner in the history of the Middle East’s oldest Marathon, Mekonnen has an impressive CV as a young runner with his 2014 Dubai victory being the third fastest time in history by an athlete making his full marathon debut.
Held under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council, the 2023 Dubai Marathon will see the World Athletics Gold Label race finally return to the sporting calendar after a three-year absence.
By his own admission, victory in Dubai was a life-changing experience for the now 27-year-old. “Winning in Dubai meant I was able to buy a house in Addis Ababa and I bought a car to be able to go to training,” he said. “I was also able to stop school and concentrate fully on running. It is definitely a completely different life for me now.”
Since that mercurial debut, Mekonnen scored a fifth-place finish at the 2014 London Marathon (2:08:06), won the 2017 Hamburg Marathon (2:07:26) and finished runner-up in the 2018 Shanghai International Marathon (2:09:18).
Over the past few years, he has had to deal with injury as well as a lack of race opportunities caused by the global pandemic but will return to Dubai eager to rekindle old memories on the flat and fast course that changed his life and had him dreaming of a world record in his future.
Runners looking to join Mekonnen and the other elites in the Marathon – or who prefer the 10km Road Race or 4km Fun Run – can register up until February 11 at the official website dubaimarathon.org.
The 2023 Dubai Marathon is supported by adidas, Dubai Duty Free, NORQAIN, the Channel 4 Radio Network, the Dubai Sports Council, Dubai RTA, Dubai Police and Dubai Municipality.- Advertisement -