Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tola wins Beijing Marathon with new event record in deadly polluted city

Tadese Tola of Ethiopia broke the event record set 27 years ago to win the men's race at the Beijing International marathon on Sunday in a deadly polutted , two months after he claimed a marathon bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
I hope such marathons will not be held in a city like Beijing  where the air completely destroyed and not healthy on the streets leave alone running in such horrible city of the dead air.
"It was my first time to compete in Beijing and I am happy for today's result," said Tola, who will turn 26 by the end of the month. "The weather is very good and the course is very good too."
Tola clocked two hours, seven minutes and 16 seconds to finish the race, trimming the former event record set by Japanese runner Taisuke Kodama in 1986 by 19 seconds.
The Ethiopian improved his marathon personal best to 2:04:49 and finished third in his first race of 2013 at the Dubai Marathon. He also finished as runner-up at the the 2013 Paris Marathon.
"After the World Championships I never stopped training. So I came to Beijing with good form," said Tola who clocked 2:10:23 to take the bronze in Moscow worlds with the gold went to Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda in 2:09:51.
Launched in 1981, the Beijing Marathon witnessed a fast and close competition on Sunday as the leading trio were almost shoulder-to-shoulder at the last 500 meters, before Tola surged a fast homestretch sprint to hit the finishing line first.
Benard Kiprop Kipyego of Kenya trailed 3 seconds behind to finish second while his countryman Rono Daniel Kipkurgat finished third in 2:07:20.
China's 22-year-old runner Zhang Yingying claimed the title of women's event in 2:31:19, extending China's overwhelming record in the women's race of Beijing Marathon as it was the 22nd straight women's title won by Chinese since 1992.
Makda Harun Haji of Ethiopia pocketed the silver in 2:33:04 while the bronze was notched by Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa, also from Ethiopia, in 2:35:20.
"I just ran to my normal level today like I usually did in my training. During the last part of the race I was leading alone and I think if someone can chase me closely the result could be better," said Zhang, whose personal best is 2:22:38 when she won the Xiamen Marathon with a course record in 2008.
"After 35 kilometers I was feeling exhausted but I managed to hang on and took the gold," she added.
Zhang claimed the half marathon title at Beijing Marathon in 2006 and finished second in the full length race in 2007. She also competed in the women's 5,000m and 10,000m event in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Ethiopia Haile's first marathon draws crowds to 'land of runners'

By Jenny Vaughan 
Hawassa — The sun had barely risen but the cool morning air was buzzing with excitement: 350 participants had gathered in Ethiopia, the land of runners, for the country's first international marathon organised by athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie.
Sunday's race, which drew 150 elite Ethiopian athletes and about 150 foreign ?fun runners?, promises to boost professionalism in a country that has produced scores of world-class runners, many of whom started running barefoot along dusty country roads.
?Believe me, we can produce more big names, we can produce more marathon runners, more Olympic champions, world champion and world record holders,? said Gebrselassie, two-time marathon record-breaker and 10,000 Olympic champion.
Race organisers sought to draw Ethiopia's top athletes to the race in Hawassa, 275 kilometres (170 miles) south of Ethiopia's capital, by offering the largest cash prize in Ethiopian racing history -- close to $5,300 (3,855 euros) each for the top man and woman competitors.
The marathon is part of an overall boost to Ethiopian athletics, which in the past two years has been bolstered by new world-class training centres and a series of competitive races that have drawn crowds from around the world.
?Two years ago there was nothing here, athletes they wanted to come to Ethiopia to train there was no facility,? said Gebrselassie, who hosts several runs throughout the year, including the annual Great Ethiopian Run, which last year drew close to 40,000 people.
Today he has his own training centre, Yaya Village, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and last year, 5,000 and 10,000 world record holder Kenenisa Bekele opened a running centre with one of the country's only professional-rate running tracks.
With its high altitude and consistently sunny weather ?- the country is often dubbed the land of ?13 months of sunshine? -? Ethiopia has long been heralded as one of the best places in Africa for long distance training, rivalled only by neighbouring Kenya.
Sunday's marathon winner, Gudissa Shentema,said the race was a historical victory for him as he had never run a competitive marathon on home soil, and that it has encouraged him to train harder.
?I've been competing in different countries but this one gives me a lot of motivation to continue,? he said, forehead glistening with sweat after his 42 kilometre-run.
Gebrselassie said he hopes to draw casual runners from abroad too, in order to promote a running culture and give foreigners a chance to tour Ethiopia.
?It's a very good opportunity to bring tourists to see Ethiopia," he said, adding that the international exposure is crucial for changing Ethiopia's image.
Annie Delp, 38, who came from the U.S. to run the half-marathon following a ten-day tour of northern Ethiopia, said the event is a chance to open foreign eyes to Ethiopia, a country better-known as a nation plagued with famine and unrest in the 1980s.
?It would change everything because people don't know how beautiful Ethiopia is, how sweet the people are and how awesome the food is, there's just so much,? said Delp, who came first in the women's half marathon.
For some, the race was also a chance to run alongside Ethiopia's future long distance stars and meet Gebrselassie, a global running hero.
Simon Newton, 35, did a ?running tour? of Ethiopia before doing Sunday's marathon, which he described as ?fantastic.?
Second-placed Newton has run around 40 marathons before but said the Haile Gebrselassie race was the ?most enjoyable? he has run.
As he tired around 35 kilometres, a group of children ran alongside him for motivation and at one point he had to dodge a monkey sitting on the road.
Gebrselassie said that while this year's race drew only modest crowds, he hopes the event will grow in the future, perhaps to gain global standing and rival the New York or London marathon.
?Of course, you cannot predict what will be in the future... now with this marathon, if people know about it, you never know,? he said with his characteristic wide grin.