Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba set to go head-to-head in Newcastle on September 15
Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba may have avoided a clash at the recent IAAF World Championships, but the 5000m and 10,000m champions respectively are set for a mouthwatering duel at the Bupa Great North Run in September.
The Ethiopian team management kept the two apart in Moscow apparently to allow younger team members the chance to get on the podium and, as a result, both won easily.
The two most successful female endurance runners in recent years are next due to meet at Zurich’s Weltklasse – the first of two finals in the 2013 IAAF Diamond League series - on August 29, before competing over longer than the distances they are used to as they take on the half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields on September 15.
Dibaba will be defending the title she won last year in 67:35 when she made her debut at the distance. The race for her will be a step towards the marathon debut that was delayed from this year’s London because of injury.
Defar has twice competed over the 13.1-mile distance, winning her races in Philadelphia in 2010 and in New Orleans in February of this year.
Peter Riley, the Bupa Great Run series elite athletes’ manager, said: “They were prevented from clashing against one another when the Ethiopian Federation would not allow them to double over 5000m and 10,000m in Moscow. So the World Championships loss is definitely our gain.”
Rumours of rivalry off the track may be exaggerated, but there is no doubting their fierce level of competition on the field of play.
Although Dibaba has an unbeaten record in her 11 10,000m race, it is Defar who leads the head to heads by 19 to 13.