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Mekkonen Set for Dubai Marathon’s “Life-changing” Streets

January 31, 2023
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Former Champion Confirmed for February 12 Race

Below is a press release from the Dubai Marathon

Asefa Mekonnen, winner of the 2014 Dubai Marathon

Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES): 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.

Asefa Mekonnen, 2014 Dubai Marathon. Photo by Race Organizer.

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).

Asefa Tsegaye Mekonnen. Photo by Dubai Marathon

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

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.

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