Addis Ababa, EthiopiaMarathon runner Koreni Jelila and track hopeful Bekana Daba were the winners of the inaugural Ethiopian Clubs Cross Country Championships held at the Jan Meda race course in Addis Ababa on Saturday (4).
More than four hundred runners drawn from more than twenty top clubs across the country took part in the event which officially kicked off the Cross Country season in Ethiopia.
Jelila continues domestic dominance
Having won three domestic Cross Country titles last year before electing to skip the trials in commitment for a spring Marathon, Jelila was the overwhelming favorite going into the race.
And the 25-year-old, who was 11th at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya, dominated the race from start to finish to take victory in the 8km women’s race in 29:03, almost 20 seconds ahead of second placed Teame Shumeye with Tigist Mamuye taking third. Experienced Cross Country runner Bezunesh Urgessa found her return to the mud after a one-year stint in the Marathon tough as she could only manage fifth.
Mamuye was among the early pacesetters, who decided to take the initiative of going forward and reducing the large leading group at 2Km to just five runners in the succeeding laps with only Urgessa, Jelila, and steeplechaser Mekdes Bekele following suit. At 6Km, however, Jelila decided to move to the front and never looked back increasing her lead in the next 2Km before crossing the finish line for a deserved victory.
“The reason I decided to run this race is my ambition to make my club successful,” said Jelila. “As we were in the base of our training program, we entered this competition with the aim to win the individual medal and team trophy. I am glad we have done it.”
Daba surprises Lelisa with first domestic title
The men’s 12Km race was billed as the battle between track runner Bekana Daba, who represented Ethiopia in the last two World championships, and Feyissa Lelisa, a 2:05:23 Marathon runner.
In this race, all athletes begun to disperse before the half way mark of the first lap as the individual between Daba and Lelisa started just after the second lap. Daba was marginally ahead at the beginning of the third lap and managed to keep his lead until the halfway mark.
Lelisa then moved to the front at the start of the fourth lap, but Daba quickly regained the lead and despite Lelisa’s desperate attempts, he managed to keep his position in the front.
Daba’s stubborn resistance finally weakened the resolve of Lelisa who begun to tire at the beginning of the fifth lap with the gap between the two gradually extending to 50m at the bell. While the resurgent Daba effortlessly moved forward, Lelisa continued to tire until he was caught by Mesfin Hailu, who had made huge ground first on long-time third placer Atalay Yersaw, and then Lelisa.
Daba went on to take victory in 37:30 with Hailu pipping Lelisa on the finish line to take second.
“I am preparing to run a Marathon most probably in Dubai and ran about 40 km last Saturday,” said Daba. “I wasn't prepared to run in this race. I just came to compete for my club. The course was a bit rough and I feel some pain on my leg. I am glad to win this one and will continue my preparation for the Marathon.”
Shock wins for Ayele and Geremew in the junior races
While victory in the senior races went to runners with previous major championship experience, the junior races saw unknown runners take surprise victories.
In the women’s race, victory went to Zewdnesh Ayele, a runner representing Wendo Trading club in one of the regions in Ethiopia. In a race dominated by athletes from the big clubs based in Addis Ababa, Ayele stayed behind the leading group for much of the race before moving ahead with 800 metres to go for a shock victory.
The junior men’s race also saw a runner from club a non-Addis Ababa club take victory as Musnet Geremew beat the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia duo of Berhanu Diro and Tolosa Degefa to take victory in 25:11.??
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
Leading Results -
6 km Women
1. Zewdnesh Ayele (Wendo Trading) 21:46
2. Birtukan Fente (EEPCO) 21:50
3. Yebegrual Melese (Alfa) 21:55
4. Almaz Ayana (Defence) 22:01
5. Alemitu Horye (Commercial Bank of Ethiopia) 22:03
6. Azmera Gebru (EEPCO) 22:06?
8 km Women
1. Koreni Jelila (Defence) 29:03
2. Teame Shumeye (Federal Police) 29:22
3. Tigist Mamuye (Defence) 29:32
4. Almaz Alemu (Defence) 29:42
5. Bizunesh Urgessa (Federal Police) 29:45
6. Zeyneba Hassen (Oromiya Police) 29:51
8 km Men
1. Misnet Geremew (Amara Police) 25:11
2. Fikadu Haftu (Mesebo) 25:13
3. Ytayal Atnafu (EEPCO) 25:14
4. Brhanu Diro (Commercial Bank Of Ethiopia) 25:15
5. Tolosa Degefu (Commercial Bank Of Ethiopia) 25:16
6. Yekeber Bayabal (Amara Police) 25:19?
12 km Men
1. Bekana Daba (Federal Police) 37:30
2. Mesfin Haile (Federal Police) 37:34
3. Feysa Lelisa (Defence) 37:51
4. Brhanu Diro (Defence) 37:53
5. Tolosa Degefu (Federal Police) 37:55
6. Ykeber Bayabl (Federal Police) 38:17