Lelisa Desisa was not far away from the world record in his debut race as Ethiopia swept the men’s and women’s podium at the Dubai Marathon on Friday.

Desisa, 23, clocked 2 hours 4 minutes 45 seconds over the 42.195-kilometres distance, just 1:07 minutes off the world record 2:03:38 from Kenyan Patrick Makau.

Compatriots Andualem Belay Shiferaw (2:04:48), Tadese Tola (2:04:49), Endeshaw Negesse (2:04:52), and Kenyan Bernard Koech (2:04:53) followed in the first marathon with five runners below 2:05 hours.

“I am surprised I ran 2:04. I can imagine attacking the world record in my next race, if it is a flat course again,” Desisa said.

Desisa got a big winners’ cheque of of 200,000 dollars, and so did Tirfi Tsegaye, who won the women’s race in 2:23:23 from fellow-Ethiopians Ehitu Kiros (2:23:39) and Amane Gobena (2:23:50).

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