Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Mesenet Geremew and Abebech Afework were the deserved winners of the men’s and women’s races respectively in the 2011 CBE Great Ethiopian Run 10km road race in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday (27).
A record 36,000 people competed in the 11th running of the race that brings some of Ethiopia’s young and upcoming running talent to perform on a bigger stage.
Strong final push gives Afework victory
Defending champion and former world junior 5000m champion Sule Utura was the overwhelming favorite coming into the women’s race, but last year’s runner-up Abebech Afework had other ideas coming into the penultimate last 2km of the contest.
The 20-year old, who finished 14th in last year’s World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China, and has a personal best of 32:27 for the 10km, took a deserved victory ahead of Marathon runners Tiki Gelana and Atsede Habtamu. It was fourth time lucky for the race winner after finishing eighth in 2009 and second last year, while not managing a top 10 finish in 2008.
Gelana helped set a quick early pace ahead of a large leading group of 18 athletes. The group, which consisted of runners like Utura, Afework, Gelana, and Habtamu, piled on the pace for the first 3km upon which Afework took over the initiative at the front and further whittling down the leading group to just five runners with Utura, Gelana, Etenesh Diro and Hiwot Ayalew able to live with Afework’s adventurous move.
Gelana, Afework, and Ayalew continued to exchange the lead until the halfway point in the race when Diro became the first runner to drop back from the leading group. A kilometre later, Gelana decisively moved to the front in a move that nearly guaranteed her prospects of a top three finish. Her move was too much for Utura who dropped out of the competition at 7km leaving Afework, Habtamu, and Ayalew behind a gallant Gelana.
Despite her best efforts at the head of the four-woman pack, Gelana could not shake off the chasing trio. At the 8km mark, Afework replaced Gelana at the head of the pack, a position which she did not relinquish before crossing the finish line in 32:59. Gelana clocked 33:06 to finish 2nd ahead of Habtamu.
"I did my best to win this race,” Afework said. “It was the fourth time I ran this race and I have been progressing well each time I participated. In my first participation, I finished 13th , then 8th, last year 2nd and now this year I am the winner."
Geremew overcomes stiff challenge of Demelash & Kipkemboi
In contrast to the women’s race; the men’s contest was a tight affair until the waning stages of the race.
As is common with the Great Ethiopian Run, the start of the men’s race was tense with lots of pulling and shoving in the field’s desperate attempt at jostling for positions. The early stages saw as many as 20 runners in a large leading group with virtually no one daring to pile on the pace at the head of the group.
The first signs of a breakaway came just after the halfway point when the large leading group started to wither down in number. Two kilometres later, the field was further reduced to five athletes with newcomers Mesenet Geremew and Yegerem Demelash, shadowing Kenyan Nicholas Kipkemboi at the head of the pack.
In his first competition outside Ethiopia, Kipkemboi gave the Ethiopians quite a run for their money going into the final kilometre, but the young duo edged him across the line with Geremew winning the battle of the young Ethiopians in 28:37 ahead of Demelash who clocked 28:44, three seconds ahead of Kipkemboi. Geremew’s winning celebration was a military salute to the gathered media and spectators, a tribute to his club Amhara Police.
"It is the first time I participated in this race,” said Geremew. “The first 5km had a lot of difficult challenges and there was a lot of pulling and shoving. But after the 5km, every one of us was focused on our race. I am so excited to become the winner of this big race which will encourage me a lot to have a bright future."
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Musnet Geremew 28:37
2. Yigrem Demelash 28:44
3. Nicholas Kipkemboi 28:47
4. Belete Assefa 28:51
5. Senbetu Mekebo 28:59
6. Berhanu Mekonen 29:12
1. Abebech Afework 32:59
2. Tiki Gelana 33:06
3. Atsede Habtamu 33:12
4. Hiwot Ayalew 33:22
5. Etenesh Diro 33:32
6. Hirut Aga 33:33