Atsedu Tsegay and Netsanet Gudeta became the new champions at the Great Ethiopian Run 10km in Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Both runners had to work hard for their victories on a tough new course in the northern part of the Ethiopian capital around the Jan Meda Race Ground.
The change in start and finish location from its traditional venue in Meskel Square had been forced upon the organisers as a result of road and rail construction work in the city.
Tsegay won in a time of 29:21, the slowest winning time here since Gebregziabher Gebremariam won in 2002, the second year of the race which has celebrated its 13th edition.
However, the winning time didn’t matter to Tsegay, who fought hard over the second part of the course to claw back a 10-metre deficit over a hilly section of the route between 6km and 9km.
A group of 11 passed the halfway mark in 13:38; after the leading pack was gradually whittled down to five by 6km and three by 7km.
At this point 2013 Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa started to struggle. Indicative of the new undulating route, the final three kilometres were covered in 9:31 compared with the opening 3km of 8:18, and the last three kilometres turned into a war of attrition, as Tsegay took the lead just before the 9km point as he headed back up the final hill past Menelik Hospital and along the edge of Jan Meda.
Tsegay, continuing the tradition of a different man winning every year, came home four seconds clear of Adugna Tekele, with Hunegnaw Mesfin a further three seconds back.
The winner said that his next big target will be the 2014 IAAF/AL Bank World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen on 29 March.
Gudeta good over the second half
In the women’s race, Netsanet Gudeta ran a clever tactical race which saw her overhaul long-time race leader Atsede Baysa at the 7km point.
Baysa stormed through the first 5km in 15:08 but could only manage 18:42 over the race’s second half as she drifed back to third. By comparison, Gudeta’s splits were 15:20 and 18:03 and she crossed the line in 33:23. Tadelech Bekele ran strongly over the final two kilometres to take second in 33:44.
Gudeta, who hails from the small town of Bekoji which has produced the likes of Kenenisa Bekele, Derartu Tulu and Tirunesh Dibaba, only requested a start number on the day before the race after deciding that her good form from her recent Coca Cola Series win in Addis Ababa back in September was still there.
Gudeta is part of a training group which also includes last year’s Great Ethiopian Run champion Aberu Kebede, Aselefech Mergia, Sule Utura and Korene Jelila.
An estimated 30,000 runners finished the race. Kenya’s recently crowned World Marathon Majors champion Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya joined former champions Haile Gebrselassie, Tsegaye Kebede and Gebremariam Gebregziabiher in presenting the prizes.
Jiro Mochizuki (organisers) for the IAAF
1 Atsedu Tsegaye 29:21
2 Adugna Tekele 29:25
3 Hunegnaw Mesfin 29:28
1 Netsanet Gudeta 33:23
2 Tadelech Bekele 33:44
3 Atsede Baysa 33:50