Injury forced Netsanet Achamo to withdraw from last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, but she will return to the Canadian city 20 October intent on beating the course record of 2:22:43 on.
The 25-year-old Ethiopian knows the Toronto course well, since she was partly responsible for the record-breaking run of her compatriot Koren Jelela in 2011.
Two years ago, in her second race over the classic distance, she ran with Jelela and Mare Dibaba through ridiculously quick splits of 32:41 at 10km and 1:08:39 at the half-way point, although she later faded to a disappointing fifth in 2:32:51.
However, she was to learn from that experience.
Achamo went on to win the 2012 Mumbai Marathon in a course record of 2:26:12, a race held in steamy hot and humid conditions, and crossed the line more than four minutes ahead of her nearest challenger.
Three months later, she lowered her personal best to 2:24:12 at the 2012 Hamburg Marathon, which remains her fastest time but a mark she is looking to improve on in Toronto.
An ankle injury earlier this year slowed her progress slightly but in May she finished fourth in the Ottawa Marathon in 2:27:44. Perhaps unwilling to jeopardise her luck, she is rather coy about her current fitness.
“I don't want to compare but I'm always in training to become better than before. I hope I can win the Toronto race,” she commented.
Achamo trains with Jelela, among others, under the watchful eyes of Ethiopian coaches Gemedu Dedefo and Gebeyehu Berihun, and their group has been running upwards of 200 kilometres a week, most of it at altitudes of about 2400 metres above sea level.
She grew up in a village called Woba, in the southern part of Ethiopia, and moved to Addis Ababa in 2003 to become a runner.
At first, Achamo tried her hand at the 3000m Steeplechase and enjoyed some international success. She represented Ethiopia at the 2006 African Championships, just missing the medal podium by one place. A year later, she set a personal best of 9:28.03 and got a bronze medal at the All Africa Games but at that year’s IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan, she failed to make the final.
She has continued to race over the barriers, winning the Ethiopian title in 2011 and finishing second in her national championships this year but, wisely, her coaches saw her potential to run Marathons.
Victory in Toronto would be worth USD$20,000 and a bonus of USD$35,000 is on offer for a course record; that’s the immediate goal but Achamo has tremendous ambition.
“My ultimate goal is to get an Olympic gold medal for my country,” she added. “I would then like to give all my time to God and the church after I finish my running career.”
Among others, Achamo will face her Ethiopian compatriot Dinknesh Mekasha, who ran 2:25:09 this year in Paris, Kenya’s Filomena Cheyech, the winner of the 2013 Vienna Marathon in 2:24:34, as well as Canadian internationals Krista DuChene and Natasha Wodak.
Paul Gains (organisers) for the IAAF