Report01 Jan 2024

Aregawi and Yeshaneh secure Ethiopian double in Madrid


Berihu Aregawi wins in Madrid (© Organisers)

World cross country silver medallist Berihu Aregawi and fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh were victorious at the San Silvestre Vallecana, a World Athletics Elite Label road race, on Sunday (31) evening.

World 5km record-holder Aregawi was a clear winner of the men’s race, while 32-year-old Yeshaneh managed a narrow win ahead of compatriots Likina Amebaw and Asmarech Anley.

The men's race had been billed as a rematch between Aregawi and Spain's Mohamed Katir as the latter grabbed 5000m silver at the Budapest worlds while the 22-year-old Ethiopian had to settle for eighth on that occasion.

Right from the start, world 5000m silver medallist Mohamed Katir – the winner here in 2021 – took command of the pacing duties, closely followed by compatriots Aaron Las Heras and Mario García Romo, the fourth-place finisher over 1500m at the 2022 World Championships.

After a conservative start, Aregawi caught the Spanish trio about 700 metres into the race with the opening kilometre being reached in a brisk 2:42 with Katir, Aregawi and Las Heras at the helm while Romo began to lose ground.

Aregawi stayed on Katir’s shoulder with Las Heras tucked behind at 3km, which was reached in 8:05, eight seconds clear of a large chasing group headed by Britain's Scott Beattie and Sweden's Oliver Lofqvist.

Soon after 4km, Aregawi took the lead for the first time and only Katir could keep with his cadence while Las Heras was reeled in by Beattie. By halfway, after almost five downhill kilometres, there were two fascinating showdowns, Aregawi and Katir for the victory (13:24) and Las Heras and the Briton for the third place on the podium (13:32).

The lead group covered the next three kilometres in the 2:40-2:42 range, but the key move came just after they passed the 8km mark (21:27) when Aregawi easily broke away from Katir to open a comfortable gap on the Spaniard over the toughest section of the race. The Ethiopian continued to extend his lead over the closing section to win convincingly in 27:15.

Katir was runner-up in 27:30 while Las Heras managed to break away from Beattie to claim third place in 27:52, finishing six seconds ahead of the Briton.

“I had been warned the final stages were tough so I preferred not to push too much in the first half, then I felt very strong and could win,” said Aregawi, who’ll next compete at the Cross Country Tour Gold meeting in Elgoibar on Sunday.

Held at the same time as the men’s race, the women's event got off to a steady start as Yeshaneh, fellow Ethiopians Asmarech Anley and Likina Amebaw, as well as 2022 world marathon bronze medallist Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, reached 3km in 9:12.

Their pace then increased slightly as they reached half way in 15:03, with Salpeter leading the pack just ahead of the Ethiopian trio. The next few kilometres were each covered in 2:53-2:55, but Salpeter was still unable to shake off the challenge of her pursuers.

Shortly after passing 8km, Salpeter started to fade and it soon became clear that it would be an all Ethiopian podium. After a fierce battle over the closing two kilometres, Yeshaneh prevailed in 30:30, just ahead of Amebaw (30:31) and Anlay (30:32) while Salpeter was a distant fourth in 31:09.

“This was my first race in Spain and I'm impressed by the large crowd assembled in the streets,” said Yeshaneh, who has achieved podium finishes at the Boston, New York and Chicago marathons. “It's nice to say farewell to the year here. My next race will be the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February.”

Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics

Leading results

1 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 30:30
2 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 30:31
3 Asmarech Anley (ETH) 30:32
4 Lonah Salpeter (ISR) 31:09
5 Laura Priego (ESP) 32:27
6 Giovanna Epis (ITA) 32:42
7 Laura Luengo (ESP) 32:52
8 Fatima Ouhaddou (ESP) 32:53
9 Naima Ait Alibou (ESP) 33:17
10 Majida Maayouf (ESP) 33:24

1 Berihu Aregawi (ETH) 27:15
2 Mohamed Katir (ESP) 27:30
3 Aaron Las Heras (ESP) 27:52
4 Scott Beattie (GBR) 27:58
5 Oliver Lovqvist (SWE) 28:27
6 Yago Rojo (ESP) 28:30
7 Rory Leonard (GBR) 28:33
8 Ellis Cross (GBR) 28:34
9 Mario Garcia Romo (ESP) 28:37
10 Ibrahim Chakir (ESP) 28:38

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