Ethiopian Triumph in Dubai Marathon: Ketema and Gobena Take Titles in Record-Breaking Debut Runs

Posted by: Watch Athletics

In a stunning showcase of athletic prowess, Ethiopia's Tigist Ketema and Addisu Gobena marked their marathon debuts with record-breaking victories at the Dubai Marathon on Sunday. Ketema, transitioning from an 800m specialist to marathon runner, shattered the women's course record with a time of 2:16:07, placing her eighth on the world all-time list. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Gobena, a former javelin thrower, surprised many by winning the men's race in 2:05:01.

The Dubai Marathon, known for its super flat course along Jumeirah Beach Road, witnessed a continuation of its trend of being a platform for debutant winners. This 23rd edition of the race was particularly memorable, given the extraordinary backgrounds and limited long-distance experience of both winners.

Ketema, previously known for her 800m and 1500m performances, outpaced experienced marathoners, including compatriots Dera Dida and Ruti Aga, to claim her victory. Her decisive move in the last five kilometers of the race left Aga trailing by over two minutes, with a finishing time of 2:18:09, and last year's winner Dida in third place with 2:19:29.

In the men's race, Gobena's aggressive approach paid off. Despite being a novice with only two years of serious running training, his perseverance and strategic pacing outdid a field of seasoned competitors. The transformation of Gobena from a "mediocre javelin thrower" to a marathon champion is a testament to the influence and guidance of family, particularly his aunt Ruti Aga.

Both winners attributed their success to their rigorous training and support systems. Ketema's coach, Gemedu Dedefo, who also trains other world record holders, played a pivotal role in her transition to marathons. Gobena's move from javelin to marathon, encouraged by his family, has proven to be a lucrative and rewarding decision.

These results underscore the dominance of East African athletes in long-distance running, particularly those from Ethiopia and Kenya, who benefit from training at altitude. The performances of naturalized athletes Melat Kejeta and Samuel Fitwi, representing Germany, also highlight the global impact of East African running talent.

The race conditions were ideal, with temperatures hovering around 16-17°C (61-62°F) and a return to the Jumeirah Beach Road course after a pandemic-induced alteration. Race director Peter Connerton expressed satisfaction with the event's success, particularly the record-breaking women's race.


KETEMA, TigistETH2:16:07
AGA, RutiETH2:18:09
DIDA, DeraETH2:19:29
KEJETA, MelatGER2:21:47
JEMAL, FozyaETH2:21:53
ESHETE, ShitayeETH2:21:55
ANMUT, AtalelETH2:22:23
AFENIGUS, BetelihemETH2:25:57
NIGUSE, EmebetETH2:27:12
10 SHIMELS, NuritETH2:28:28


GOBENA, AddisuETH2:05:01
DUMECHA, LemiETH2:05:20
MEGERSA, DejeneETH2:05:42
FUFA, AbdiETH2:06:23
FITWI, SamuelGER2:06:27
DAGNACHEW, AntenayehuETH2:06:55
CHEBII, Douglas KipsanaiKEN2:08:15
TESFAYE, LenchoETH2:08:25
TESHAGER, BayelignETH2:08:56
10 DESSIE, AbebawETH2:09:09
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