Ethiopian marathon luminary Tamirat Tola is set to grace the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on February 24, revisiting the vicinity that witnessed his ascent to elite status with a triumphant Dubai Marathon outing in 2017.
He'll be accompanied by Chicago Marathon victor Seifu Tura and the erstwhile women's half marathon world record achiever, Ababel Yeshaneh, marking a stellar entry list for the 17th iteration of this event, which anticipates the assembly of a distinguished international distance running roster. This gathering aims to leverage the favorable conditions of the Gulf in preparation for the upcoming spring marathons and the Paris Olympics.
Tola, an Olympic bronze medalist from Rio 2016, solidified his standing in road running with his Dubai win in 2017, a World Championships silver in London the same year, and clinched the world marathon title in Eugene 2022. His journey also includes wins at the Amsterdam Marathon 2021 and the New York City Marathon recently, complemented by third-place finishes at the Tokyo and London Marathons in 2022. Tola's best half marathon came with a 59:37 victory in Prague 2017. Notably, his wife, Dera Dida, and younger brother, Abdisa, have both secured titles at the Dubai Marathon in 2023, underlining the family's athletic prowess.
Tura, another Ethiopian standout, boasts a personal best over a minute faster than Tola's, recording a 58:36 in 2022, which positioned him fourth in RAK. His credentials are further enhanced by a Chicago Marathon win and a second-place finish.
Yeshaneh returns to RAK, the site of her formidable 64:31 world record victory in 2020, a record that stands as her personal best. Her marathon accolades include second-place finishes in Chicago 2019 and Boston 2022, and a third-place in the New York Marathon 2021.
This trio of Ethiopians is set to join a field featuring men's defending champion Benard Kibet of Kenya (58:45) and Olympic Marathon Champion Peres Jepchirchir, a three-time World Half Marathon Champion who set a former world record of 65:06 at RAK 2017.