Derara Hurisa Desalegn and Gete Alemayehu triumphed in the senior 10km races at the second Ethiopian Clubs and Regions Cross Country meeting of the season on Sunday (3).
With some top-class names like world 5000m champion Muktar Edris, 2011 world cross-country champion Imane Merga and two-time national 5000m champion Ali Abdosh in the starting line-up, the men’s 10km was undoubtedly the most anticipated event for spectators gathered at the Jan Meda race course in northern Addis Ababa. But it was 20-year-old Derara Hurisa who emerged winner from a contest that saw both Merga and Edris eventually drop out, while Abdosh finished a lowly fifth.
After some jostling for places at the front, newcomers Bitew Ademand Taye Girma were the first to try to stretch the pack of about 12 athletes in the opening three kilometres. Their move at about four kilometres was enough to end Edris’s and Merga’s chances of staying with the leaders. Both athletes eventually dropped out of the contest just after half way.
By contrast, Abdosh and Hurisa stayed at the back of the lead group until the seven-kilometre mark as the leaders maintained a steady pace until the last lap of the race.
In a bid to evade Hurisa’s challenge, Girma was the first to kick at the bell. Showing the composure of a seasoned racer, Hurisa kept up with Girma’s challenge until the final kilometre before launching a devastating kick to win by three seconds in 32:07.
“I am good at finishing fast,” said Hurisa. “I worked very hard on it in training. With 200 or 300 metres to go, I knew I was going to win.”
After failing to recover from an injury sustained while winning last weekend’s Great Ethiopian Run, world U20 5000m champion Selemon Barega did not start the race.
In contrast to the late drama of the men’s race, the battle for victory in the women’s race started much earlier with only six challengers remaining in contention as early as the second lap. Rome Marathon winner Rahma Tusa led the pack with Gete Alemayehu, Enatenesh Alamirew, and Birzaf Tareke in close contention by the six-kilometre mark.
Six became five when Alemayehu opened up a slender lead during the final two laps. In the final kilometre, Alamirew replaced Alemayehu at the front as Tusa dropped off. The spectators broke into a round of applause when Alemayehu produced her kick during the final 200 metres to leave long-time leader Alamirew in her wake and stop the clock at 36:58 for victory. Alamirew followed her home 10 seconds later ahead of Tareke in third.
“I cannot say I had a good preparation coming into this race,” said Alemayehu. “But I was very relaxed. I realised it was mine to lose when there was just a few hundred meters to go.”
In the day’s other race, Melese Birhan won the U20 men’s 8km in 25:37, beating training partner Mekuria Zeleke in the final 600 meters.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Abiy Wendifraw) for the IAAF
Senior men (10km)
1 Derara Hurisa Desalegn 32:07
2 Bitew Adem 32:10
3 Taye Girma 32:23
4 Hirbo Shano 32:27
5 Ali Abdosh 32:29
6 Tadesse Tesfahun 32:34
Senior women (10km)
1 Gete Alemayehu 36:58
2 Enatnesh Alamrew 37:08
3 Birzaf Tareke 37:22
4 Sintayehu Lewetegn 37:29
5 Zinash Estifanos 37:39
6 Rehima Tusa 37:49
U20 men (8km)
1 Melese Birhan 25:37
2 Mekuria Zeleke 25:42
3 Alemneh Yirsaw 25:47
4 Getachew Masresha 25:49
5 Mulat Bazezew 25:50
6 Milkesa Mengesha 25:50