23 November 2015 - Mamitu Daska and Tamirat Tola won their first Great Ethiopian Run titles in Addis Ababa earlier today.
Daska took the women’s race by a massive winning margin of 54 seconds, while Tola had to outsprint his rivals in the closing 500m of the race. Their winning times were 32 minutes and 16 seconds, and 28 minutes and 44 seconds respectively.
For Daska, this was her second appearance in the race, having competed here in 2005 when she finished 24th. “I knew I was in good shape. I’m training hard for my next marathon in Dubai in January, and wanted to test myself here,” she explained after the race.
Daska broke clear just after the halfway point and continued to extend her lead over the uphill second half of the course. Behind her Yegebrual Melese and 2010 champion Sule Utura had their own tussle for second place, with Melese just edging out her older rival over the race’s final kilometre. Utura was delighted with her return to top-flight competition after giving birth fifteen months ago.
Daska said after the race that she believes she is in shape to attack the Ethiopian marathon record of 2:18:58 held by Tiki Gelana when she competes in Dubai in two months’ time.
There was a much closer battle in the men’s race with a leading pack of around 12 athletes together as they passed 6km. The pack started to break up on the climb from the Gotera Junction, leaving just three athletes Tola, Bonsa Didi and Adugna Tekele in contention as they approached the race’s final kilometre. Tola put in a fierce kick 500m from the line and came home six seconds clear of Didi with Tekele a further 4 seconds back.
“I’ve always wanted to run here,” said Tola after the race. “My breakthrough race came two and a half years ago when I won the Hawassa Half-Marathon, and since then I’ve been dreaming of winning here. But then I could not take part two years ago as I was training hard for Dubai and last year I was injured before the race. So to win now is something very special.”
“After dropping out in Berlin in September my focus has been this race,” admitted Tola who shares the same coach as Daska in Gemedu Dedefo. “I knew I was in good shape, and felt great all the way round. Although I was leading in the early stages, I then decided just to sit back in the group and then kick hard at the finish.”
Tola is part of a strong training group that includes Tsegaye Mekonnen and Lemmi Berhanu.
The first non-Ethiopian to finish was Geoffrey Kipyego who finished 10th in 29 minutes and 29 seconds.
The first European to finish was Mark Jenkin from UK who ran 33 minutes and 26 seconds.
The Irish Ambassador Aidan O’Hara once again won the Ambassadors’ Race in a time of 50 minutes and 35 seconds.
1. 1. Mamitu Daska 32:16
2. 2. Yegebrual Melese 33:10
3. 3. Sule Utura 33:44
1. 1. Tamirat Tola 28:44
2. 2. . Bonsa Didi 28:50
3. Adugna Tekele 28:50