Addis Ababa, EthiopiaEthiopian 20km champion Deriba Merga completed a domestic road-running hat-trick as he won the men’s race in the 2006 TOYOTA Great Ethiopian Run on Sunday (26) morning.
In the women’s race, little-known runner Belaynesh Fekadu took a surprise victory over defending champion Genet Getaneh as both winners smashed the course record.
MEN - Merga sprints clear from Tola in epic finale
With race favourite Ibrahim Jeylan opting not to start the race, Merga led Ethiopia’s distance running elite in their quest to preserve the home nation’s 100% record in the sixth running of Africa’s largest 10km.
And he dully lived up to his pre-race hype clocking a course record time of 28:18.61 to take victory in a sprint finish from compatriot Tadesse Tola. It was Merga’s third domestic road running victory of the year after similar wins in the Nazreth World Cup 10km and the Ethiopian 20km Championships.
After an expected nervy start to the race, a leading group of eight runners distanced themselves from the rest of the field with four Kenyans also vying for a chance to upset the formbook.
The pack dwindled down to six by the fifth kilometre when Tola took the initiative to set a punishing pace that split two runners from the pack. Three more runners were further dropped at the 5km kilometre point with Tola leading Merga and Eshetu Wondimu.
With two kilometres left, Tola and Merga dropped Wondimu to set up a two-horse towards the finish. Both runners tried to move away from each other towards the end, but when Merga pulled away with half-a-kilometre left, Tola had little answer.
Merga eventually finished three second ahead of Tola, who also improved on his Ethiopian championship 10,000m bronze medal with a second place finish. Wondimu edged Tilahun Regassa to finish third. Kenyan Henry Sugut was the fastest non-Ethiopian, home in ninth.
“I knew that I had what it takes to take victory,” said a delighted Merga after the race. “I have trained better and systematically compared to last year and that has been the difference.”
The 22-year old, who represented the Defense sports club in Addis Ababa, is part of an ambitious NIKE Global marathon project designed by Getaneh Tessema to unearth future Ethiopian runners over the road.
Fekadu upsets Getaneh in women’s race
Although the men’s race winner lived up his pre-race hype, Belaynesh Fekadu shocked defending champion Genet Getaneh and race favourite Bezunesh Bekele to take an upset victory in the women’s contest.
The Omedla sports club runner, whose only noteworthy international result was a 13th place over 5000m in the Berlin Golden League meeting this year, powered ahead of Kenyan Lineth Chepkurui to win the race in a new course record time of 33:02.25.
Fekadu perfectly executed her astute race tactics by first running behind a large leading group of nine runners after 3kms and then maintaining a stranglehold on the proceedings when the pack dwindled down to five runners with two kilometres to go.
She then moved behind leader Chepkurui with a kilometre to go and sprinted past the Kenyan with 500m for an explosive finish.
“I did not plan for victory,” she said in her post-race comments. “This is my second race here and I am happy to have improved my 14th place finish from last year.”
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
2006 TOYOTA Great Ethiopian Run Official Results
1. Deriba Merga (Defense) 28:18.61
2. Tadesse Tola (Prisons) 28:21.89
3. Eshetu Wondimu (Aysha) 28:34.57
4. Tilahun Regassa (Entoto Terara) 28:34.77
5. Kidane Gemechu (Ethiopian Youth) 28:39.89
6. Wegayehu Girma (Aysha) 28:44.45
7. Gadissa Gurmu (Geta Zeru) 28:46.29
8. Tola Bane (Muger Cement) 28:47.48
9. Henry Sugut (Kenya) 28:47.50
10. Demesew Tsega (St. George) 28:49.13
1. Belaynesh Fekadu (Omedla) 33:02.25
2. Lineth Chepkurui (Kenya) 33:07.68
3. Genet Getaneh (Prisons) 33:13.19
4. Aheza Kiros (EEPCO) 33:24.57
5. Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopian Banks) 33:26.09
6. Emebet Eta’a (Defense) 33:32.24
7. Dire Tune (Prisons) 33:41.07
8. Ayelech Worku (Omedla) 33:46.70
9. Teyiba Erkesso (Prisons) 33:48.85
10. Makeda Haroun (Prisons) 34:04.04