23 November 2014- Azmeraw Bekele and Wude Ayalew, both former winners of the race, won the men’s and women’s races respectively at the 2014 Great Ethiopian Run 10km in Addis Ababa earlier today.
Bekele who had won here in 2010 returned to win his second title, to make it two wins out of two having missed the three intervening races. Ayalew became the first athlete in the race’s 14-year history to win three titles having triumphed here previously in 2007 and 2008.
The winning times for both the men’s and women’s races were among the slowest in the race’s history (30:11.1 for Bekele and 34:03.4 for Ayalew) but were as expected given the tough nature of the course including three steep climbs in the race’s final 4km. As for last year, the unavailability of the traditional race venue in Meskel Square meant that the race finished almost on top of a hill at the Jan Meda racecourse.
A large pack stayed together for the race’s opening kilometres which were run in 2:47, 3:05 and 2:36 (8:28 at 3km). Even at the halfway point which the leaders reached in 14:13 (4th km in 2:52 and 5th km in 2:53), there were still 23 athletes together. The group started to break up on the first hill in the 7th km just past Adwa Dildi. Passing 7km in 20:22, Bekele looked comfortable at the front of the group running alongside Bonsa Didi.
The Kebena roundabout turn at 8km at the start of the course’s toughest hill was reached in 23:33. Didi made the first move on the steep uphill section leading back towards Jan Meda. Then Bekele took over and opened a 15m lead on Adugna Takele (who had finished 2nd in last year’s race) and Azmeraw Mengistu. Approaching 9km Mengistu came past Takele and appeared to have timed his effort well to overhaul the race leader and momentarily took the lead as he and Bekele entered Jan Meda for the race’s final 600m off-road section. But the 2010 winner showed his experience and superior finishing speed by retaking the lead with just over 400m to run and held on for a narrow 2-second victory.
After the race Bekele said: “I entered this race, wanting to win it and repeat my victory from four years ago. It’s good to be able to say: run twice and won twice. I had wanted to run last year, but I was still struggling with injury, and this now shows that I am back to my best.”
Ayalew also described the course as one of the toughest 10km courses she has run. The first move came just after 6km when a group of 3 athletes including last year’s race winner Netsanet Gudeta, Ayalew and Gebeyanesh Ayele started to break clear. One kilometre later, Ayele dropped back leaving Ayalew to fight it out with Gudeta on the final hill from 8km back up to the finish. Ayalew made a decisive move 1500m from the finish and maintained her 6-second winning advantage from there to the finish.
“I love this race,” said Ayalew afterwards, “and it was no fluke that I won. I’ve been preparing specifically for this race and this tough course for the past two months.”
Ayalew also revealed that her first win in 2007 had been a breakthrough race for her, leading on to national team selection for the Beijing Olympics and a bronze medal at 10,000m at the world championships in 2009.
Further back the first European finisher was Mark Jenkins of England who crossed the line in a respectable time of 34 minutes and 15 seconds. Olympic triathlon champion Alastair Brownlee also ran strongly and finished in around 40 minutes.
Behind the elite athletes around 35,000 participants took part in the race which had been started by four of Ethiopia’s famous Olympic champions (Haile Gebrselassie, Derartu Tulu, Kenenisa Bekele and Meseret Defar) together with Kenya’s world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat. Kiplagat was impressed with what she saw: “I like the way everyone is having fun. Many are walking, some are jogging, but they are all enjoying it. We need something like this in Kenya!”
1. Azmeraw Bekele 30:11.1
2. Azmeraw Mengistu 30:13.9
3. Adugna Takele 30:17.9
1. Wude Ayalew 34:03.4
2. Netsanet Gudeta 34:09.4
Gebeyanesh Ayele 34:17.6