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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Following Berlin's blueprint, flat course could see some fast times at Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon

Last seven men's world records have been set in the German capital. The inaugural Abu Dhabi Marathon takes place on Friday

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the Berlin Marathon setting a new world record on September 16, 2018 in Berlin. AFP
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the Berlin Marathon setting a new world record on September 16, 2018 in Berlin. AFP

The inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon takes place this Friday with thousands set to pound the streets of the capital.

The course is based around the Abu Dhabi Corniche with a prize fund of US$379,000 (Dh1.3 million) in total that will be spread across the race categories - marathon, 10 kilometres, 5km and 2.5km - with $100,000 each going to the respective winners of the men's and women's marathon races.

The race will begin by the Adnoc headquarters on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, with the runners heading towards the Emirates Heritage Village, before they then make their way around Marina Mall, along King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud street, and on to Qasr Al Hosn.

The final stretch of the race runs through Mina Zayed, before returning to the Adnoc complex for the finish.

There are over 40 elite runners in the field, including Ethiopians Feyisa Lilesa, the 2016 Rio Olympics men's marathon silver medallist, and Gelete Burka, the women's 10,000 metres silver medallist at the 2015 World Championships.

The Abu Dhabi Sports Council should be applauded for being brave enough to stage its first marathon in an already crowded calendar that includes the Fifa Club World Cup, the 2019 Asian Cup, and the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship presented by EGA among others.

The hope is that in the years to come the Abu Dhabi Marathon will become a blue-ribbon event that the world's best runners earmark each year as they do the likes of other marathons in London, Boston, New York and Berlin.

Perhaps with the Berlin Marathon in mind, the Abu Dhabi course is very flat, raising hopes of some fast times on Friday, although Eliud Kipchoge men's record (2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds) or Mary Jepkosgei's time of 2:17:01 will come under threat.

Eight of the last 10 men's marathon world records have been set in Berlin while the women's world record was set in the German capital three times, the most recent in 2001.

There are a few key factors that make the Berlin Marathon an ideal race for breaking records.

As mentioned, the route is a flat course, with few corners. It starts at 38m above sea level, never gets higher than 53m or lower than 37m. Most of the route for the Abu Dhabi Marathon is between 6-10m above sea level.

In comparison, London undulates more, with frequent twists and turns more frequently. Athletes also face the obstacle of running against the wind whipped up from running alongside the River Thames past Embankment. Boston's finish line is so much lower than its start that world record attempts are nigh on impossible.

Runners in Berlin have the advantage of running on asphalt, while those in Abu Dhabi will have to contend with concrete.

"We hear from runners that they have less problems with their joints," Mark Milde, the Berlin Marathon director, told the BBC in an interview in 2014.

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Read more:

Eunice Chumba targets 'special' win at Abu Dhabi Marathon

Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon: All you need to know ahead of the inaugural race

Road closures on Friday for first Abu Dhabi Marathon

Tips for Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon runners: what to do in the 24 hours before the race

Watch as UAE's cabinet ministers pound the streets in Abu Dhabi marathon training video

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Weather conditions also play a part. The Berlin Marathon takes place in September each year when the average temperature is around 16°C to 18°C. The forecast for the start of the Abu Dhabi Marathon, which starts at 6am on Friday, is 21°C rising to 24°C by 9am.

Paul Tergat, the Kenyan whose time of 2:04:55, set at the 2003 Berlin Marathon, stood as a world record for four years, is confident that the route for the Abu Dhabi Marathon offers up an opportunity for some very rapid times to be achieved.

“It’s a spectacular flat course and taking into consideration the cool December weather in this part of the world, I expect the runners to achieve a very fast time," said Tergat, who was part of the technical committee to plan the route of the race.

“This is one of the best marathon routes I have seen. All what we need now is to draw the crowds in thousands and fill the roads to make it a spectacular first race in Abu Dhabi.”