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Kenyans make debut as Great Ethiopian Run marks 20th anniversary in style

ADDIS Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan 10 – The Kenyan trio of Solomon Boit, Evans Kipkemei and Kennedy Kimutai had a taste of the Total Great Ethiopian Run that celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Sunday in the Ethiopian Capital.

The annual race that attracted 12,500 athletes was an opportunity for Ethiopian athletics lovers and elite athletes to run in the streets of Addis Ababa, being the first biggest sporting event held in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kimutai was the first Kenyan athlete to cross the line, finishing 21st in 29:50.162, Boit occupied 27th spot after clocking 30:15.16 while Kipkemei settled for the 35th position returning a time of 30:50.6.

“I came to Ethiopia to experience this Great Run that I have been idolizing since I was young. I am honored to run in this great country that has talented athletes. I started well but the high altitude was too much for me. I was using the race to prepare for the Kenyan Olympics Trials since I wasn’t to compete in the 10,000m,” said Kimutai.

The race was dominated by Ethiopians with Abe Gashaw cutting the tape first in 28: 19: 105, beating compatriot Tedese Worku who came second in 28: 20.40 while Milesa Mengesha completed the podium in 28: 39.15. 

For Gashaw it was his second victory in the race, having won previously in 2016. For much of the race he ran behind his friend and training partner Tadesse Worku, before outkicking him in the fast run into the finish on the road leading down to Bole from Urael Church. His winning time was 28:19, one second ahead of Worku.

In the women’s race, Tsigile Gebreselama dominated the race in 32:33 ahead of Medilen Gebresilassie who came second in 32: 35 while Gebetanesh Ayele was third in a time of 32:45.

For Gebreselama her victory was even sweeter because she had come close to winning two years ago when the race took place near to Jan Meda, being denied victory only because of a misdirection in the race’s final 200m. But today there was no mistaking the class of her victory and she pulled ahead of the field soon after halfway and stayed clear from then on. Her winning time was 32:32, 2 seconds ahead of second-placed Medehen Gebrselassie.

Both the elite men and women winners pocketed Sh279,000 (100,000 Birr).

The athletes pounded the Addis Ababa City Center Course, that started at the  Meskel Square and finished near Atlas Hotel in Bole.

Race founder legendary Haile Gebresilassie hailed all the participants that took part, outlining that the event continues to be a breeding ground for Ethiopian athletes.

Past winners of the race who have gone ahead to be world beaters include himself Haile who won the inaugural race in 2001, the decorated Tirunesh Dibaba and Aberu Kebede among others.

“It is my joy to see athletes come from Kenya, Uganda and Eritrea compete here. We could have had many foreigners but because of COVID-19 it could not be possible. Elite participants who were atleast 300 were tested for COVID-19 before competing. I treasure this race because it has produced champions of the world,” said Haile.

Great Ethiopian Run, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been using its flagship event, the Great Ethiopian Run 10km International, to support people in need in our community.

“Our official “Running for a Cause” fundraising campaign serves as the platform to collect donations. Last year we have raised over 1.6 million birr which made the total fund raised in the last five years to over 7.1 Million birr.

This year, we have set a fundraising target of 1.7 Million Birr. Great Ethiopian Run has supported financially and promoted the work of different organizations working with vulnerable children, women and the elderly.”

-Alex Isaboke is reporting live from Addis Ababa-

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