Etihopian Woman Earns $50K Bonus For Beating Men In LA Marathon

Lauren Kleppin of the ASICS Mammoth Track Club will make her marathon debut this Sunday in L.A. Photo:

Upstart American runner Lauren Kleppin was third in a personal-best 2:28:48.

Amena Gobena outran all of the men in Sunday’s ASICS LA Marathon and says she’ll build a house with the $75,000 payday she earned for her efforts.

The 31-year-old Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 37 seconds to earn the $25,000 winner’s check. But the women’s elite field was given a 17-minute 41-second head start as part of the event’s gender challenge, which would award a $50,000 bonus to the first runner to cross the finish line. Fellow Ethiopian Gebo Burka, 26, won the men’s race in 2:10:37, but Amena broke the tape 41 seconds ahead of him to collect the bonus.

A sold-out field of more than 25,000 runners participated in the 29th annual marathon, which followed a Stadium to Sea course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica for the fifth straight year. Temperatures were in the upper 50s when the elite fields started and in the upper 80s when the final runners finished. According to reports, about 1,000 runners sought medical attention along the route and about 25 were taken to local hospitals.

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Gobena led the women’s lead pack through the halfway point with a 1:12:43. She and countrywoman Tigist Tufa pulled away from the group near the 18-mile mark. Gobena broke away for good with 4 miles to go to secure her fifth career marathon win.

Tufa finished second in 2:28:04 while Lauren Kleppin, a recent NCAA Division III star from Western State Colorado University who now trains with the Mammoth Track Club, was third in a personal-best 2:28:48. Colorado’s Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz was the next U.S. runner, placing sixth in 2:39:42.

In the men’s race, Ethiopian Habtamu Asefa led through 13.1 miles with a 1:05:57 split. But it was Burka and Kenyan Lani Rutto who battled it out over the final 2 miles.  Burka emerged the stronger of the two, finishing 11 seconds ahead of Rutto (2:10:48). Defending champion Erick Mose of Kenya was a distant third in 2:12:56.

Gabe Proctor, also of the Mammoth Track Club, was the top American in the men’s race, finishing sixth in 2:16:17, one place ahead of Aaron Braun in 2:19:51.

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