Former world marathon champion Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia has confirmed his participation in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on February 24; and heads back to the area where he emerged as a world class road runner when winning the neighbouring Dubai Marathon in 2017.

Chicago Marathon winner Seifu Tura and former women’s half marathon world record holder, Ababel Yeshaneh will also be joining their compatriot in RAK. The entry for the 17th edition of the event is expected read like a Who’s Who of international distance running as a wealth of elites seek to take advantage of the benign Gulf conditions in the countdown for the spring marathons and the Paris Olympics.

Having won Olympic bronze on the track at Rio 2016, Tola established himself as one of the leading road runners of his generation when he won Dubai 2017, and followed that up with silver at the World Champs in London later that year. He won world marathon gold in Eugene 2022, but in the interim he won Amsterdam Marathon 2021, and then topped that with victory in the New York City Marathon three months ago. He has also finished third in Tokyo and London Marathons in 2022. His fastest half marathon was a winning performance in 59:37 in Prague 2017. His close family also keeps him on his toes; his wife Dera Dida won the Dubai Marathon 2023, and his younger brother Abdisa took the corresponding men’s title.

It’s a measure of the fast course in RAK that his compatriot Tura has run over a minute faster than Tola, but his 58:36 in 2022 was only good for fourth. But a victory and second place in the Chicago Marathon has bolstered his credentials.

Their colleague Ababel Yeshaneh returns to the scene of one of her greatest victories, having set a world record of 64:31 in winning on the spectacular course around Al Marjan Island in the 2020 race. That time remains her personal best at the distance, although in the full marathon she also has two runner-up finishes to her name in Chicago 2019 and Boston 2022, as well as a third place finish at the New York Marathon 2021.

The three Ethiopians will join elite fields that already include men’s defending champion Benard Kibet of Kenya (58:45) and his colleague, reigning Olympic Marathon Champion and three-time World Half Marathon Champion Peres Jepchirchir, who set her best half marathon in winning RAK 2017 in a then world record of 65:06.

For online entry and more information please visit: https://rakcalendar.ae or contact Alan Ewens – alan.ewens@pace-events.org