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Abu Dhabi, UAE is ready to host its fast annual marathon for over 6,000 participants on Friday, November 26th. The race will be led by a growing group of top-level East Africans. Expect course record attempts and national records to be threatened.

As earlier reported, Reuben Kiprop Kipyego, the defending Abu Dhabi Marathon champion is back to fight to keep his title. He is also there to try to improve upon his personal best of 2:03:55. Kipyego also took second in the 2009 Berlin Marathon as well as the 2019’s Buenos Aires Marathon. The 25-year-old has run sub-2:05 at least three times.

The men

Fellow Kenyan Abel Kirui is also in the race. The 39-year-old NN Running Team member is coached by the legendary Renato Canova. He owns a personal best of 2:05:04. Kirui won the 2009 Berlin Marathon and in 2011 he won the Daegu Marathon and finished fourth in the 2018 London Marathon.

Confirmed are several other top-level athletes. Abdi Asefa Kebede (Pb: 2:06:43, ETH), Barnabas Kiptum (2:04:17, KEN), Philemon Rono Cherop (2:05:00, KEN), Shumi Dechasa Leche (2:06:43, ETH), and Thomas Kiplagat (2:06:00, KEN). This brings the total to 35 elite runners confirmed.

Ekiru said, “I am happy and proud to be in Abu Dhabi and I cannot wait to compete in the race. My goal is to beat my personal best and I am aiming for a record time of 2:02:00. The course this year is fast and flat, so I am confident I can achieve this goal.”

The women

Kenya’s Vivian Kiplagat (2:21:11) will attempt to defend her 2019 title. Kiplagat, who came into her own in 2017, won the 2019 Milan Marathon and the 2018 Buenos Aires Marathon. She will try to improve upon her personal best. She has run at least six sub-70-minute half-marathons including having a best of 66:07. Also in the race is Ethiopian, Alemu Megertu. She owns a best of 2:21:10. She won the 2019 edition of the Rome Marathon and took second in the 2019 Frankfurt Marathon. Kenyan, Eunice Chumba, who owns a best of 2:23:10 is on the start line too.

She finished second at the 2017 Rotterdam Marathon and third at the 2021 Milan Marathon. Ethiopian, Moges, owns a personal best record of 2:23:38. Moges won the 2015 Beijing Marathon and took third at the 2016 Valencia Marathon as well as a fourth-place finish in the 2021 Milan Marathon.

The 34-year-old Kiptum has run as fast as 2.04.17. He won both the 2017 Buenos Aires Marathon and 2019 Hong Kong Marathon and placed third in the 2021 Milan Marathon. The 30-year-old NN Running Team member Rono clocked a 2.05.00 when he went on to win the 2019 Toronto Marathon.

In 2018, the course was found to be 200m short. This was the inaugural running of the event. The 30-35K segment was found to be adjusted by volunteers. They did this to provide access to a market leaving the course 200m short of the 42.195K length, plus 1m per km over the shortest possible route. Helmut Winter and Sean Harnett – certified course measurers – were brought in to evaluate.

During that first marathon, Kenya’s Marius Kipserem and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh won in the times of 2:04:04 and 2:20:16 smashing both of their personal bests.

The race is also hosting a half-marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2.5K distance events.

A full elite list for both men and women can be found here>>

SHOESTRINGS: unfortunately with the strife in Ethiopia, many current and former athletes are caught up in the battle and potential civil war. Ethiopian Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa say they are ready to go to the front line in the war against rebel forces. Read the full story from the BBC here>>

Germany and France have become the latest countries to advise their citizens to leave Ethiopia, amid an escalation in the civil war.