Prior to the Dubai Marathon, Mekonnen had successfully competed in several shorter races, including 62:41 half marathon last September. He also took fifth place at the 5,000 meters at the world junior track championships.
With his win at 18 years old, Mekonnen is now considered the world's junior best, although the International Association of Athletics Federations doesn't officially maintain such a record. Eric Ndiema of Kenya held the fastest time previously with 2:06.07.
Given the aggressive pace set by the lead pack early on in the race, Mekonnen felt that a more reasonable pace could have resulted in a better overall race time for him.
“The pace was changing a lot during the first half, which was quite tough. I think I could have run faster with an even pace,” said Mekonnen.
“But I am of course very happy and proud of my performance. I had no idea about the world junior record, so this is a bonus for me.”
Mekonnen's time was only nine seconds off of the course record, which was set in 2012 by Ayele Abshero.