The prestigious Dubai Marathon has a new home and one that can potentially lift it to even greater heights on the world’s long-distance running stage. Twenty-five years after its modest beginning at the Al Wasl Club, the 2023 Dubai Marathon will now take place at the state-of-the-art Expo City Dubai.
After 182 days, 24 million visits, and over 35,000 thousand events, Expo closed its gates in April last year. But now, the legacy of Dubai’s proudest enterprise has been brought back to life when it hosts the historic 23rd Dubai Marathon on Sunday, February 12.
More than 20,000 runners, both professional and amateur athletes, are expected to compete in three categories – the 42,195 kilometre run and the popular 10,000km road race, and the 4km fun run.
The participants come from across the planet and will include men, women, and children. After moving from Al Wasl Club to the World Trade Centre, the Dubai Marathon found what appeared to be its permanent headquarters on Umm Suqeim Street in front of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
However, it appears that in keeping with the UAE’s ambitious steps in realising its sporting progress, the Dubai Sports Council decided to move the event to Expo City Dubai.
A statement on the Dubai Sports Council website said: “Expo City Dubai is considered as the most appropriate location to host this most prominent sports event in the region, because of its spacious areas and because it is easily accessible by vehicles, buses or Dubai Metro.
“All versions of Dubai Marathon are organised with the participation of tens of thousands of contestants comprising professionals and athletes of different physical levels from all over the world.”
A runner from the UK who chose to remain anonymous said that although the decision to change the venue comes a little too close to the actual staging of the event, it bodes well for its long-term future and hopes of attracting the world’s elite marathoners.
“Expo City Dubai looks like a good choice to hold a marathon,” said the runner who has competed in some of the world’s premier events in London, Paris, Berlin, Boston, New York, and Tokyo.
“The Dubai Marathon has a charm of its own and it has produced some excellent timings.
“It’s a nice event to be in and many use it as a prep race for the other big races around the world. It’s well organised and has the potential to get bigger in the future.”
When previously staged at the Umm Suqeim, Jumeirah Beach and The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi route it was regarded as one of the fastest routes on the world circuit.
The Dubai Marathon has also helped develop and strengthen the running and fitness culture in the UAE and also led to the Dubai Run.
Kenya’s Wilson Kibet and Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie among men and Aselefech Mergia, Tirfi Tsegaye, and Worknesh Degefa (all Ethiopia) and Russia’s Ramilya Burangulova are multiple winners of the 42.195km event.
The fastest times were set in 2019 by Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla (2:03.34) and Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich (2:17.08).