|5000 Metres||15:59.99||Dedham, MA (USA)||03 JUN 2000|
|10 Kilometres||33:58||Sunderland (GBR)||25 JUN 2006|
|10 Miles Road||52:18||Portsmouth (GBR)||09 OCT 2005|
|Half Marathon||1:09:46||Malmö (SWE)||12 JUN 2000|
|Marathon||2:24:29||London (GBR)||22 APR 2001|
|Marathon||2:29:04||Mumbai (IND)||16 JAN 2011|
|2000||15:59.99||Dedham, MA (USA)||03 JUN 2000|
|2006||33:58||Sunderland (GBR)||25 JUN 2006|
|2005||34:24||Boulder, CO (USA)||30 MAY 2005|
|1999||34:18||Chula Vista, CA (USA)||17 OCT 1999|
|2009||1:11:42||Ras Al Khaimah (UAE)||20 FEB 2009|
|2004||1:10:57||Hamilton (BER)||18 JAN 2004|
|2000||1:09:46||Malmö (SWE)||12 JUN 2000|
|2011||2:29:04||Mumbai (IND)||16 JAN 2011|
|2009||2:35:36||Chicago, IL (USA)||11 OCT 2009|
|2005||2:26:50||Tokyo (JPN)||20 NOV 2005|
|2004||2:26:58||Tokyo (JPN)||21 NOV 2004|
|2003||2:24:47||Tokyo (JPN)||16 NOV 2003|
|2002||2:29:31||Tokyo (JPN)||17 NOV 2002|
|2001||2:24:29||London (GBR)||22 APR 2001|
|2000||2:24:47||Osaka (JPN)||30 JAN 2000|
|1999||2:28:52||Sevilla (ESP)||29 AUG 1999|
|1998||2:30:19||Amsterdam (NED)||01 NOV 1998|
|1997||2:37:36||Amsterdam (NED)||02 NOV 1997|
|1996||2:36:29||Roma (ITA)||24 MAR 1996|
|2005||52:18||Portsmouth (GBR)||09 OCT 2005|
|4.||Marathon||2:28:15||Athina (GRE)||22 AUG 2004|
|6.||Marathon||2:26:54||Sydney (AUS)||24 SEP 2000|
|5.||Marathon||2:28:52||Sevilla (ESP)||29 AUG 1999|
|6.||Marathon||2:26:29||Paris (FRA)||31 AUG 2003|
|1.||Marathon||2:24:47||Tokyo (JPN)||16 NOV 2003|
|16 JAN 2011||Mumbai Standard Chartered Marathon||IND||D||F||3.||2:29:04|
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Elfenesh Alemu (ELFnesh ahLEHmoo), Ethiopia (marathon)
Born 10 June 1975, Lemo Arya, Arsi Region, Ethiopia.
Married to Gezahegne Abera, winner of the 2000 Olympic, 2001 World Championships and 2003 London marathons. Lives in Addis Ababa
Coach: Yilma Berta, national marathon coach
Manager: Mark Wetmore
One of 11 children, five boys, six girls. Parents farmers. Younger sister Asnakech a former runner, married to three-time World Championship 10,000m finalist Habte Jifar (younger brother of 2001 New York City Marathon champion Tesfaye Jifar).
Elfenesh Alemu was born in the rural Arsi highlands not far from the town of Bekoji, which Olympic Champions Derartu Tulu, Fatuma Roba and Kenenisa Bekele, and World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba all name as their home town.
Elfenesh enjoyed sports in school and was encouraged by instructors to pursue distance running, which she did along with younger sister Asnakech. A few months after taking up the sport in 1993, both girls placed near the top in an Addis Ababa cross country race. Asnakech later abandoned running after marrying 27:06:45 10,000m runner Habte Jifar, and becoming a mother of two.
Elfenesh, however, is determined to combine marriage and running, after tying the knot in June 2003 with Gezahegne Abera in a massive Addis Ababa ceremony. The spectacular wedding, attended by some 25,000 people including President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, took place in the city stadium, where the bridal party included Derartu, Fatuma and Haile Gebrselassie. Elfenesh and her husband train together often and she hopes to emulate him by winning an Olympic marathon.
After running her first 26-miler in Ethiopia (2:57:32 at altitude) in 1993, Elfenesh became a prolific marathoner, and has run more than 25 to date, placing in the top six at least 21 times. She ran four marathons a year from 1997, when she earned her first major victory in Amsterdam (2:37:36), to 1999, when she placed 5th at the Seville World Championships (2:28:52).
In 2000, she clocked her first two (of six to date) sub-2:25 races, both in Japan, finishing 4th in Osaka (2:24:47) and winning Nagano (2:24:55), before placing 6th in the Sydney Olympics (2:26:54). The following year, she ran a PB 2:24:29 to place 5th in London and was 2nd behind Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba in Chicago (2:24:55).
Elfenesh was 3rd in Boston in 2002 (2:26:01) behind Kenyans Margaret Okayo and Ndereba. She discovered soon after that race that she had a bone abnormality near her left knee that had troubled her during the race, and continued to do so through the 2003 Paris World Championships, where she placed 6th (2:26:29).
After Paris, she had the problem surgically corrected, and it seems to have made quite a difference. In November she won the 2003 Tokyo Women’s Marathon (2:24:47) over Japan’s Olympic champion and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi. She next destroyed the Bermuda Half-Marathon course record in wet and windy weather (1:10:57), and clocked the fastest time (31:31) for her 10 km stage of the Yokohama ekiden, contributing to the Ethiopian team victory. All of which led up to a dramatic duel with Ndereba in warm and humid Boston in April, Ndereba winning by 16 seconds (2:24.27 to 2:24.43) and collapsing at the finish, and Elfenesh looking far fresher, and perhaps readier for Athens.
Yearly progression: 1993 – 2:57:32; 1994 – 3:08:05; 1995 – 2:40:04; 1996 – 2:36:29; 1997 – 2:37:37; 1998 – 2:30:19; 1999 – 2:28:52; 2000 – 2:24:47; 2001 – 2:24:29; 2002 – 2:26:01; 2003 – 2:24:47; 2004 – 2:24:43.
Note on Ethiopian names: Ethiopians are customarily referred to by first name alone, or first and second name together, the second name being the father's first name.
Biography prepared by Sabrina Yohannes for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. Copyright IAAF 2004.