News21 Aug 2013

Defar and Dibaba to duel at the Great North Run


Tirunesh Dibaba in the womens 10,000m at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)

Ethiopia's Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba, winners of the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 5000m and 10,000m gold medals last week, will compete at next month's Bupa Great North Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in Newcastle on 15 September.

 The pair of superstars have been intense and sometimes bitter rivals in their international careers, which extend back a decade and their presence in this Half Marathon, which has attracted 56,000 runners of all abilities, promises to match the quality of the men's contest featuring fellow Olympic and World champions Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie.

 Defar and Dibaba are both at the experimental stages in their Half Marathon careers.

However, they already have very high profile successes under their belts despite their inexperience over the distance.

Dibaba defends

Last year's Bupa Great North Run saw Dibaba, on her debut, win a thriller ahead of Kenya's Edna Kiplagat in a very fast time of 1:07:35 seconds. In February, Defar ran 10 seconds quicker in New Orleans.

"That's impressive running and clockings by anyone's standards," said Peter Riley, the Bupa Great Run series elite athletes’ manager. "I'm sure that given their great rivalry, we could see them go even faster in a few weeks’ time.

Competitiveness between them remains extremely intense. Dibaba, having won the London 2012 Olympic Games 10,000m crown was denied the 5000m title a week later by Defar and who, in their 32 head-to-head clashes to date, leads by a score of 19-13.

"Both really are outstanding ambassadors on and off the track for their country. I'm looking forward to their latest head-to-head and it should be an intriguing battle down the course from the world's two best distance performers in recent years."

At the World Championships Defar concentrated on the 5000m and Dibaba the 10,000m and so did not meet. “The World Championships loss is definitely our gain," said Riley.

Organisers for the IAAF