Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa Wins 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:04:45 As A Record Five Men Break 2:05

Berhanu Shiferaw Destroys World Jr. Record With A 2:04:48; Tirfi Tsegaye Wins Women’s Title

by Robert Johnson
January 25, 2013

In 2012, the Standard Chartered Dubai became the first marathon in history where four men broke 2:05. This year, Dubai topped itself as a record five men broke 2:05. Not only did the race break a record for the fastest top 5 in history, it also featured arguably the greatest sprint finish in marathon history as all five men were still in contention with 400 meters left and four hit the 42km mark together.

But there was no doubt as to which of the final four was the best over the final 200. 23-year old Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, who was making his marathon debut, bolted to the lead and never looked back as he won in an unofficial 2:04:45 as Ethiopia went one through four. 19-year old Berhanu Shiferaw, who was constantly pushing the pace and doing much of the work in the second half of the race, ended up a much deserved second in a new world’s junior best of 2:04:48 – smashing the previous world’s junior best of 2:06:15 held by Bazu Worku from 2009 Paris.

25-year old Tadesse Tola, who had run 2:05:10 last year in Dubai, gallantly finished 3rd as at 34km he seemingly was barely hanging on to the lead group as the last of seven guys, before going to the lead at the 36km mark. Unheralded Endeshaw Shumi, who came in with a 2:09:59 pb from winning in Florence in November, had a huge PB to finish fourth in 2:04:52. Kenya’s 59:10 half-marathon man Bernard Koech had a very successful debut to finish 5th in 2:04:53. It seems almost criminal that the 8 seconds that separated him from first was a $188,000 difference as first place paid $200,000 and fifth paid $12,000.

In the women’s race, pre-race favorite Tirfi Tsegaye (2:21:40 win in Paris, 2:21:19 runner-up in Berlin last year) won in 2:23:23.

The Men’s Race

Given the fast men’s times, it should come as no surprise to learn the race was run under good conditions. reported conditions of temperatures of 54 degrees and 5 mph wind with a 94% humidity at 7 am (race start time) and 59 degrees and 3 mph with still 94% humidity some 2:13 later (just after the race finish).

5km splits
14:59 (halfway 62:39)
2:25 final 2.195k (14:16 5k pace)

Just as was the case last year, the race started a bit conservatively as the first 5km was run in 14:58 (2:06:18 pace), which really is ideal as the runners get a little bit of time to warm-up into things. The pace never slowed below 15:00 for a 5km segement and all but three 5km segements were under 14:50 (see the chart on the left). At halfway, the leader’s split was 62:39 as a ridiculous 23 men were under 62:50.

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But the pace was getting faster thanks to Shiferaw. The 19-year old, who only had a 2:08:51 PB coming in, was at the front of the lead pack for much of the second half and he pushed the 5th 5km segment down to 14:36.

The lead pack was down to 7 by the 33km mark, and 5km later at 38km, it was down to the five guys who would eventually all break 2:05, as back to back 2:56 kilometer splits broke down the field.

To be honest, not a lot happened until the very end as the lead pack of five stayed very tight. At the 42km mark, the top four were still together and then instantly it was over. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why.

The unofficial 42km split was 62:20. If that’s accurate, then it means Desisa ran his final 194.988 meters in 25 seconds. Is that good? Yes, damn good. That’s 51.3 400 pace. So he basically closed a 2:04 marathon with a 25.6 final 200 – ridiculous. Even if the split was off by say a second, he’s still closing at 26.7 200 pace.

Speaking after the race Desisa said, “With one kilometre to go, I tried to push but all the guys were remaining there. So I decided to wait for the last lap because all the guys are marathon runners and I’m a track runner. I know I’m better than them at kicking so I went with 200 metres remaining.”

Who is Desisa?

The finish The finish

As we mentioned in our Dubai preview, Desisa came in very much hyped. Last year, he twice ran under 27:20 on the track for 10,000 including at Hengelo where he was just .28 behind eventual Olympic bronze medallist Tariku Bekele. In 2011, he twice ran in the 59:30s for 13.1. If his name sounds familiar, it may be because he made a name for himself on the US road scene in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he won more than $18,000 in a single weekend as he smashed the 16-year old course record at Washington, DC’s Cherry Blossom Run by running 45:36 – the day after winning $10,000 at the Cooper Bridge Run. In 2010, he won Bolder Boulder and Boilermaker (More: What can anyone tell me about Lelisa Desisa).

What about the new world jr. record holder?

Desisa’s stellar debut wasn’t a total shock but the second place time and new world junior record for Berhanu Shiferaw seemingly came out nowhere.

The 19-year old, who was 5th at the World Youth games in the steeple in 2009 and has an 8:38 steeple best from 2011, is no marathon neophyte. He’d already run 5 in his short career and this was this third in five months:

Berhanu Shiferaw’s 5 Career Marathons Before Today
2:12:12              6        Marrakech    30 Jan
2:09:19      SB (103)        4        Ljubljana    23 Oct
2:11:54              5    Barclays    Milano    15 Apr
2:08:51      PB (118)        1        Taiyuan    2 Sep
2:09:40              1        Ljubljana    28 Oct

That being said, the Dubai Marathon media guide talked about him going after the world junior record as it said given the fact that he turns 20 in May that Dubai was “likely to be his final chance to break the record” so we guess it wasn’t totally unexpected from people close to him.

The Women’s Race

While the men’s race featured a negative split, the women’s race featured a positive split. A lead group of six women went through half-way in 71:01-3 before  Tirfi Tsegaye emerged as the winner in 2:23:23. Ethiopia’s Ehitu Kiros, who came in with just a 2:34 pb, was second in 2:23:39 as Amane Gobena improved on her 2:24:13 pb to finish third in 2:23:50.

2009 world championship bronze medallist and 30:11 performer at 10,000, Ayalew Wude, was with the leaders at half-way but didn’t finish.

Unofficial top 20 results below as well as a mini-photo gallery (click on photo to see it enlarged).

More: MB: 2013 Dubai Marathon Discussion

Unofficial Top 20 Men’s Results

1 25 Desisa Benti, Lelisa (ETH) MH 02:04:45
2 13 Shiferaw Tolcha, Berhanu (ETH) MH 02:04:48
3 5 Tola Woldegeberel, Tadese (ETH) MH 02:04:49
4 15 Negesse Shumi, Endeshaw (ETH) MH 02:04:52
5 24 Kiprop Koech, Bernard (KEN) MH 02:04:53
6 28 Kipkemboi, Nicholas (KEN) MH 02:06:33
7 2 Yami Gemeda, Dadi (ETH) MH 02:07:55
8 26 Kipruto Kigen, Mike (KEN) MH 02:08:24
9 20 Assefa Wakeyo, Habtamu (ETH) MH 02:08:28
10 11 Worku Biru, Gemechu (ETH) MH 02:08:53
11 3 Kimutai Sanga, Philip (KEN) MH 02:08:54
12 12 Chebogut, Stephen (KEN) MH 02:09:20
13 22 Birhanu Gebru, Girmay (ETH) MH 02:09:48
14 23 Mesfin Woldetensae, Afewerk (ETH) MH 02:09:49
15 32 Tesfaye Gebrehiwot, Dereje (ETH) MH 02:10:50
16 36 Negasa Kitesa, Herpasa (ETH) MH 02:10:51
17 16 Ndiema Masai, Moses (KEN) MH 02:11:00
18 1511 Aliyev, Tilahun (AZE) MH 02:11:20
19 35 Zeleke Demse, Wosen (ETH) MH 02:11:22
20 29 Delile Awol, Mohammed (ETH) MH 02:13:17

Unofficial Top 20 Women’s Results

1 1 Tsegaye Beyene, Tirfi (ETH) WH 02:23:23
2 11 Kiros Reda, Ehitu (ETH) WH 02:23:39
3 5 Gobena Gemeda, Amane (ETH) WH 02:23:50
4 17 Kiros Abeye, Aheza (ETH) WH 02:24:30
5 15 Oljira Jemama, Belaynesh (ETH) WH 02:25:01
6 6 Bedasa Ordofa, Shitaye (ETH) WH 02:25:47
7 4 Andersson, Issabellah (SWE) WH 02:26:05
8 12 Afework Bekele, Abebech (ETH) WH 02:27:08
9 10 Naigambo, Beata (NAM) WH 02:27:54
10 9 Katsumata, Misaki (JPN) WH 02:30:42
11 14 Luik, Liina (EST) WH 02:42:27
12 2141 Nyirabarame, Epiphanie (RWA) W30 02:43:23
13 1419 Hyrylainen, Anne-Mari (FIN) Dubai Creek Striders W35 02:44:13
14 2551 Tida Bekele, Belaynesh (ETH) WH 02:44:42
15 1902 Khan, Jane (GBR) ABRaS AC W30 02:49:57
16 1232 Kersey, Christina (NZL) W30 02:58:44
17 1306 Bradford, Lorna (GBR) CS Wellness Running W40 03:05:09
18 1711 Smith, Nicola (NZL) Dubai Creek Striders W45 03:08:48
19 1805 Bester, Ann (RSA) Dubai Creek Striders W40 03:11:30
20 1932 Dr. Krasznai, Adrienn (HUN) W30 03:11:41

Photo Gallery

Last Year in Dubai Four Broke 2:05: Hello World, Meet Ayele Abshero (2:04:23 Debut!!)  The 21-year old former jr. world xc champ’s marathon debut was super special as his surge at 3km decimated the deepest marathon field in history as four men broke 2:05 in the race, eight broke 2:06, 10 broke 2:07, and 17 broke 2:10 – all records as fastest-ever times for places were recorded in spots three through 17. 2011 belonged to the Kenyan men, will 2012 belong to Ethiopia? The women’s race was super fast and super deep as well as 3 women broke 2:20 in the same race for the 1st time as Aselefech Mergia ran 2:19:31 to win as a record 9 women broken 2:25. Martin Lel was a DNF, Ramaala 2:12.


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