Challenor battles illness in Dubai

Updated: January 20, 2017

After getting off to a good start at the Dubai Marathon, Jenna Challenor’s 42km comeback ended in disappointment at the annual race in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.
Competing in her first marathon in 10 months, after recovering from knee surgery, Challenor was on target to better her personal best of 2:37:12 for most of the first half.
She went through the halfway point in 1:19:19, but dropped out at the 25km mark, revealing afterwards that she had felt ill in the warm conditions.
“I started vomiting at 12km, and I have no idea why,” Challenor said.
“I continued until 25km where I had to pull off. I had nothing left.”
Challenor was already the third fastest South African women’s qualifier for the World Championships marathon, following her career record performance in Nagoya last year.
She was left out the national preparation squad released earlier this week, however, and may need to attempt another 42km effort in order to secure her place in the final team for the biennial showpiece in London in August.
“I guess it’s not how you celebrate the victories that count but rather how you overcome the disappointments that defines you as an athlete. I will be back,” she said.
While Challenor was unable to finish, compatriot Gerda Steyn, who narrowly missed out on Comrades and Two Oceans ultra-marathon gold medals last year, finished 14th in the women’s race in Dubai in 2:57:01.
Meanwhile, Olympic 10 000m bronze medallist Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia won the elite men’s contest in 2:04:11.
With the event getting off to a cracking start at world record pace, Tola dropped the rest of the field by the 30km mark and ran solo for the last 12km, breaking countryman Ayele Abshero’s five-year-old course record by 12 seconds.
Compatriot Worknesh Degefa won the women’s battle in 2:22:36.
Nine of the top 10 athletes in the men’s and women’s contests were Ethiopian, with the race hosting the East African country’s national championships.