Ethiopians Rule Weekend Races

Gebremariam victorious in New York; Gebrselassie and Kidane take titles in Manchester.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

No matter where you were in the world of running this weekend, there was a race or two worth watching.

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Domestically, New York City was the place to be and Gebre Gebremariam was the man to beat at the Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park on Saturday. The 2009 World Cross Country champion from Ethiopia controlled the race from the get-go and pulled away from Kenyan Peter Kamais with less than a mile to go to cross the finish line first in a new course record of 27:42, six seconds under countryman Tadese Tola’s winning time from last year’s race. Gebremariam pocketed $27,500 for his efforts — $7,500 for the win, and an additional $20,000 for breaking the course record. Abdi Abdirahman was the top American across the finish line in sixth place, as the three-time Olympian was one of ten men to finish under 29 minutes with a time of 28:35.

Sticking to the streets but crossing continents, Gebremariam’s countryman, the immortal Haile Gebrselassie, won his third BUPA Great Manchester Run on Sunday, crossing the finish line in 28:02 on a windy day in Great Britain. Gebrselassie, still uncertain about his fall marathon plans, outdistanced second-place finisher Ayad Lamdassem by seven seconds. In the women’s race, Gebremariam’s wife, Werknesh Kidane, made it a weekend to remember in Ethiopian road racing, crossing the finish line in 31:19 to win by 28 seconds over Jessica Augusto of Portugal. It was a solid start  to the summer racing season for Kidane, who is looking to bounce back from a disappointing ninth-place finish at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland this past March.

Despite his victory, however, Gebrselassie was not the fastest man in Manchester this weekend. Dropping down in distance, American sprint superstar Tyson Gay tore up the specially constructed track in the center of town, breaking Tommie Smith’s world record in the rarely run straight 200 meters at the Great City Games. Gay crossed the finish line in 19.41 seconds, nine hundredths of a second ahead of Smith’s record, a mark that stood for 44 years. The traditional world record for 200 meters on a turn is 19.19 seconds, set by Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt at last summer’s world championships in Berlin. Bolt, who opened his season earlier this year in his native Jamaica, will race at the next IAAF Diamond League event in Shanghai next Sunday.

In San Francisco at Bay To Breakers, Kenyan Lineth Chepkurui continued her 12K tear, running 38:07 to break her own world record of 38:10 set two weeks ago at the Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Washington. Sammy Kitwara, also of Kenya, repeated as the men’s winner, running 34:15 to finish a few ticks in front of countryman Peter Kirui to claim victory.

And finally, in previously reported on action from earlier this weekend, the IAAF Diamond League got off to a stellar start in Doha on Friday, and U.S. ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek broke the American Record for the 24-hour run at the world championships in Brive, France, covering just over 165 miles from Thursday into Friday to break Mark Godale’s previous mark of 162.46 miles, set in 1999.

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