Yesterday’s 14th Standard Charter Dubai Marathon came out, on paper, as one of the most thrilling and historic in marathon history. In a final 800 meter flurry five men, led by debutante Lelisa Desisa, 23, of Ethiopia, crossed the line sub-2:05:00, one better than the record set in Dubai 2012. Four of the top five finishers were also debs at the distance, cementing the understanding that the sport has fundamentally changed from an experienced-based test of endurance to a youth-based examination of speed over distance.
Yet, as scintillating as it may look in today’s news accounts, to actually watch the 2013 Dubai Marathon unfold was like watching a benighted hunting party running headlong through the mists of a post-apocalyptic cityscape with “eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders”, as Cormac McCarthy so luridly wrote in The Road. Except for the celebrating crowd of flag-waving Ethiopians at the finish, the rest of early morning Dubai was as empty as a ghost-town, not a soul out along the dead-flat palm-lined course.
And though a pack stretching 17-deep or more ran together past half-way, there wasn’t one graphic on the computer screen listing who was who, not one split, not one close up shot of any individual in the pack. Meaning, if you didn’t have an already highly developed interest in the game, there would be no discernible reason whatsoever to invest your time. But somehow as long as the thousands come and pay their entry fees, and fast times are created, all is well.
This morning I had a long conversation with British sports agent Ricky Simms of Pace Sports Management. Among others, Simms represents Olympic kings Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. (more…)