The elusive Great Ethiopian Run title is still a dream for Kenyans after once again missing to make the podium in the 21st edition held in the streets of Addis Ababa on Sunday, attracting 25,000 participants.
Kenyan Cornelius Kemboi was the first Kenyan to cross the line in 6th place in a race that was dominated by hosts Ethiopians with Gemechu Dida taking the top honors in a time of 27:22.95.
Crossing the line second was compatriot Getaneh Mola in 27:23.44 beating Boki Diriba who was placed third.
In the corresponding women’s event, Antrim Coast Half Marathon champion Yalemzerf Yehualaw won the race in 30:14:20 ahead of compatriot Girmawit Gebregziabher who was second returning 30:26.95 as Melekenat Wedu settled for third spot in 30:41:95.
Winners in both categories walked home with Ksh 229,000 equivalent to 100,000 Ethiopian Birr.
Ethiopian Great Run in Green, Yellow, and Red Sporting Jerseys
In the men’s race the highest placed non-Ethiopian athlete was Kemboi who finished in 6th place in a time of 27 minutes and 37 seconds, Rodgers Kibet from Uganda was 11th, Kipngetich from Kenya was 16th and Samson Amare from Eritrea was 18th.
Yehualew, the 2019 champion, improved her time with more than one and a half minutes faster than her winning time two years ago.
Yalemzerf came into the race eager to impress after having to withdraw from the Valencia 10km just two weeks ago.
At Friday’s press conference she spoke about her aim of reclaiming the world half-marathon record from compatriot Letesenbet Giday.
The 2020 New Delhi Half Marathon winner ran a tactical race, making her break from long-time leader Girmawit just past the 7.5km mark after cresting the hill near the Nataional Palace.
At the 9km turn at Urael Church Yalemzerf accelerated dramatically and easily pulled clear of her rival, and looked fresh and relaxed as she cruised into the finish with a winning margin of 12 seconds.
She revealed after the race that she was wearing a new pair of shoes which she had received from her agent an hour before the start of today’s race.
A total of 17,600 finished the race with the ritual mass race that started in intervals beginning with participants donning green, yellow and red t-shirts in waves, representing the colours of Ethiopia’s flag.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Addis Ababa-