Categories: "Athletics" or "Beijing 2008" or "Osaka 2007"

Ethiopians making up for lost time at the Boston Marathon

April 18th, 2014
Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia passes Buckingham Palace during the Virgin London Marathon April 13. Getty Images

Ethiopians making up for lost time at the Boston Marathon

By John Powers

Published in Boston Globe

In the beginning there was Abebe Bikila, the imperial guard who ran barefoot atop Roman cobblestones by torchlight in 1960 and became the first black African to win the Olympic marathon. The Ethiopians owned the distance then, winning three consecutive gold medals at the Games with Bikila and Mamo Wolde. That was before boycotts took them off the global stage, before the prize money arrived and the Kenyans came by the dozens, then the hundreds, to take over the roads.

Now Bikila’s countrymen and women have been coming off the track and onto the hardtop and restaking their country’s original claim to primacy over 26 miles. “From the beginning Ethiopia was a name in marathoning,” says coach Haji Adillo. “Now, Ethiopia has become at the level of the Kenyans.”

The Ethiopia-Kenya rivalry is both friendly and fierce. “We are neighbors and we have the same talents for long distance but it is a big rivalry,” says Markos Geneti, who’ll be returning with four of his countrymen to take on eight Kenyans in Monday’s 118th running of the world’s most fabled road race while the women, led by two-time New York runner-up Buzunesh Deba and Mare Dibaba, have a quintet to take on Kenyan defending champion Rita Jeptoo and half a dozen of her countrywomen. “We fight for our country and for ourselves.

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Kenenisa Bekele wins Paris Marathon in marathon debut

April 6th, 2014

Kenenisa Bekele wins Paris Marathon in marathon debut

Paris (AFP) - Ethiopia's legendary runner Kenenisa Bekele notched up another impressive milestone in an already glittering career by winning the Paris Marathon on Sunday, his first attempt at the gruelling event.

The 31-year-old 5,000m and 10,000m world record crossed the line in an event record time of 2hr 5min 04secs after negotiating a sunbathed course of 42.195km (26.22 miles) through the streets of the French capital.

The previous Paris record was held by Kenya's Stanley Wiwott who clocked 2hr 05:10 in 2012.

Fellow Ethiopian Limenih Getachew came home second at 2hr 06.49secs with Luka Kanda of Kenya, the 2012 Rome winner, claiming the final spot on the podium crossing the line in 2hr 08.02.

"It was my first marathon and I didn't have much experience," said Bekele, the triple Olympic champion.

"It was very tough but it was the time I expected. After 25km I pushed alone but it was very tough." added

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Ethiopia: Tsegaye Kebede is running all the way to the bank with $560,000 prize money

November 3rd, 2013

Ethiopia: Tsegaye Kebede is running all the way to the bank with $560,000 prize money

Ethiopia's marathon runner Tsegaye Kebede finished second at today's ING New York City Marathon finishing in 2:09:16 after Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai. He won $60,000 for the race and clinched the 2012-13 World Marathon Majors title, earning an additional $500,000 prize money. “It is not easy to win the World Marathon Majors, but this is my dream,” Kebede said.

Tsegaye finished in first place for the 2012-13 World Marathon Major with a total point of 75. Five big-city marathons—in London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and New York—plus the Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships make up the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors series, in which professional athletes vie for points over a two-season cycle leading to a grand, winner-take-all prize of $500,000 for the top man and top woman. Results from the Tokyo Marathon, which joined the group this year, will begin to count for the prize in the 2013-2014 series. Points are awarded to the top 5 male and female finishers (1st 25; 2nd 15; 3rd 10; 4th 5 and 5th 1) in the races over a two-year period. The leader at the end of the series is awarded US$500 000.

Tsegaye became the first man to place in the top five of three WMM races in a single year. In April he won the London Marathon and in August was fourth at the World Championships.

He has also scored in at least two WMM events per year for a record five consecutive years.

Tsegaye has finished in the top three of a WMM event 10 times, equaling the modern record of Martin Lel. His total point score of 181 is the best since WMM competition began in 2006.

Tsegaye has recorded 14 marathon times under 2 hours 10 minutes, tying him with Jaouad Gharib for the best total ever.

03Nov13 ING New York City Marathon 2nd 2:09:16
17Aug13 IAAF World Championships, Moscow 4th 2:10:47
21Apr13 Virgin London Marathon 1st 2:06:04
07Oct12 Bank of America Chicago Marathon 1st 2:04:38
22Apr12 Virgin London Marathon 3rd 2:06:52

Source: World Marathon Majors

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele too much for Mo Farah

September 15th, 2013

Kenenisa Bekele fulfils Farah promise and comes back to beat Mo by a stride

The Ethiopian legend stunned the home crowd as he pipped Mo Farah in the world's biggest half marathon

He warned Mo Farah he would come back to haunt him, and Kenenisa Bekele made good his threat yesterday.

At a squall-hit Bupa Great North Run, the Ethiopian legend ambushed Farah to win the clash of the titans with a blistering sprint finish.

The world’s biggest half marathon had never seen anything like it and Farah responded by challenging his African rival to a rematch at next April’s London Marathon.

“See you in London?” asked Farah, Britain’s greatest athlete. “If I’m invited I’d like to run,” replied Bekele.

There will be no problem with that as yesterday’s showdown heralded the birth of a road rivalry with the potential to thrill the sport for years to come.

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A track above the rest: Ethiopia’s running camp in the sky

September 4th, 2013
CHAMPIONS ON TRACK: Ethiopian running greats Kenenisa Bekele, left, and his brother Tariku Bekele train at Kenenisa camp in Sululta outside the capital Addis Ababa. (AFP)

A track above the rest: Ethiopia’s running camp in the sky

Source: AFP

On a cold and wet morning in the lush green hills high above Addis Ababa, Ethiopian track star Kenenisa Bekele circles a brick red track, slowly, steadily rebuilding his strength.

His muscular legs hit the ground in a quick rhythm. The only noise in the serene silence is his breath, piercing through the thin air 2,700 meters above sea level.

The world-record holder in 5,000 and 10,000 meters and triple Olympic champion, who has suffered from a calf injury for three years, is running at the center he opened late last year to improve training conditions for Ethiopia’s renowned runners.

Now he is looking to attract foreign athletes too, transforming his camp in Sululta into what he hopes will be a world-class training center.

“We are inviting athletes, we want to have other international athletes from all over the world, so we want to be part of training centers of the world,” he told AFP, speaking after a training session on the track, 10 kilometers (six miles) from the capital.

He says the new training center was initially set up because there were no adequate tracks in the country, but was now also welcoming professional distance runners eager to train in the ideal climate and altitude of the Ethiopian highlands.

Bekele is also hoping to attract running enthusiasts of all levels, finding a new way of marketing Ethiopia as a tourist destination and tapping into a growing market of ‘hobby joggers’ the world over who are eager to rub shoulders with east Africa’s elite.

The size of the potential market related to the current running boom is certainly huge, with major big city marathons like London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo systematically selling out their tens of thousands of places within hours.

It’s also a market that neighboring Kenya, the other distance-running giant and Ethiopia’s arch rival, is already tapping into.

In the Kenyan Rift Valley town of Iten, elite runner Lornah Kiplagat has opened a High Altitude Training Center, offering the austere eat-sleep-run regimen and a diet of thin air, endurance boosting hills and simple, unprocessed organic food to a growing number of elites and enthusiasts.

Bekele hopes Sululta will be the next Iten, and has already hosted several international track runners, including Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, the 2012 Olympic 1500m champion, and Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman — both 800m specialists.

It is Ethiopia’s second training camp, though Yaya Running Village on the outskirts of Addis Ababa — sponsored by fellow Ethiopian distance legend Haile Gebreselassie — lacks a track.

Bekele’s facility has one of only two world-class tracks in Ethiopia. The other, in the congested and dusty capital, was only recently refitted with a suitable track for long distance training.

Bekele had long complained the old track was too hard and likely worsened his stubborn calf injury, which has stilted his performance in recent years.

Bekele won gold in the 10,000 meters in Athens, and followed up with the 5,000m and 10,000m double in Beijing in 2008. But since then he has been beset by injury, finishing 4th in the London Olympics and missing out on the Moscow World Championships in August.

“Every time we go over that track, (we were) getting injury. It’s very strong, it’s not good for muscle,” he said.
“It’s a big challenge for me... not only me, many athletes have injury over that track,” the 31-year-old runner added.

Today, he is looking to regain his past fitness, training twice daily ahead of this month’s Great North Race, where he will face Gebreselassie and Britain’s Mo Farah.

The center is part of Bekele’s steadily growing business empire. In addition to a cinema and real estate in central Ethiopia, his first hotel opened in August on one of Addis Ababa’s cramped thoroughfares.
Bekele said that in addition to boosting tourism he is keen to invest to spur industry and create jobs, leaving a lasting legacy once his legs can no longer perform on the track.

“If I get more money, if I have that money in my pocket, if I’m not spending to create jobs, if I am not sharing with other people, it’s no sense,” he said.

Today, near the existing 17-room hotel neighboring the track, the outlines of Bekele’s planned expansion stand tall.
It is the site of a new 100-room lodge, which will boast two swimming pools, a gym and basketball and tennis courts. He is also planning for a nine-hole golf course nearby.

Bekele said he wants to boost his business with these extra offers and hopes that, combined with the center’s close proximity to Addis Ababa, its safe environment and clean air, Sululta will become a top international sports destination.

Plus, he jokes, his own experience comes with the center — a chance for aspiring runners to be trained by a living legend.

“I will give my experience, I will share my experience,” he laughs, exposing his characteristic toothy smile.