Battling cold and wet conditions, Ethiopians Firehiwot Dado and Aredo Tolesa Tadese triumphed at the Florence Marathon on Sunday (28).
Running over a significantly changed course from previous editions, Dado crossed the finish line in 2:28:58 to add the Florence crown to her two successive victories at the Rome Marathon in 2009 and 2010. The conditions precluded an assault on her 2:25:38 career best and the course record of 2:28:15 set by Slovenia’s Helena Javornik in 2002. Meseret Mengistu, also from Ethiopia, finished a distant runner-up in 2:30:45.
Dado and Mengistu formed the leading duo, going through the opening 10Km in 34:04 and 15 km in 51:16 before reaching the halfway in 1:12:21, indicating that a possible attack on the course record was still in the cards. They passed the 35 km in 2:01:37 before the pace slowed considerably. The two Ethiopians continued running neck and neck for most of the race until Dado broke away at 38 km. Dado managed to build up a gap of 40 seconds over Mengistu by 40 Km, although the pace slowed dramatically with splits of 3:52 in the 37th kilometre, 3:48 in the 38th, and 3:43 in the 39th.
“It was terribly cold but I ran a good race,” said Dad, who lives in Addisa Ababa and is coached by Haji Adilo. “I am now planning to return to Rome to win in the Eternal city for the third consecutive time next spring.” Adilo also coaches Siraj Gena, the men’s winner in Rome earlier this year.
The adverse weather conditions and the slippery course also prevented fast times in the men’s race where Ethiopia claimed a podium sweep. The win went to Tadese who took the honours in his debut over the distance in 2:12:41 beating his compatriot Teshome Gelana.
Edea Bane Tola started as a pacemaker leading for most of the race, passing at halfway in a promising 1:03:43, and decided to run until the end. But the effort took its toll in the final part of the race run on a more challenging section. Bends, slippery cobblestones and worsening rainy conditions slowed the time and dashed and any hopes of a course record (2:08:40 set by Jonas Kutto in 2006) or sub-2:10 run.
Tola led alone at 33 Km but his pace faded dramatically in the final 5 Km (he ran the 37th kilometre in 3:22, 38th in 3:23 and 39th in 3:41). This allowed Tadese and Gelana to catch and overtake Tola in the final kilometre. The race came down to the wire with Tadese just holding off Gelana. Both were credited with 2:12:41. Gelana started the race as favourite, with 2:07:37 PB set in Houston in January.
“I am happy to win my debut marathon,” Tadese said. “When we saw that Tola was fading, we tried to launch our attack.” The winner haisl from Addis Ababa and runs for the military group of the Oromia Police. He has a Half Marathon PB of 1:03:37 set at altitude in Addis Ababa.
Notable too was the sixth place finish by Thomas Bedford, the Race Director of the Virgin London Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. A member of the IAAF Road Running Commission, Bedford, son of Marathon ace David Bedford, clocked 2:19:30.
No less than 10,211 runners from 57 countries toed the starting line from Piazzale Michelangelo making Florence the second most popular Italian marathon after Rome.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1 Aredo Tolesa Tadese (Ethiopia) 2:12:41
2 Teshome Gelana (Ethiopia) 2:12:41
3 Edea Bane Tola (Ethiopia) 2:13:30
1 Firehiwot Tufa Dado (Ethiopia) 2:28:58
2 Meseret Mengistu (Ethiopia) 2:30:45
3 Alena Samokhvalova (Russia) 2:36:42