News03 Sep 2012

Gelana joins Newcastle Half Marathon field


Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the Women's Marathon at The Mall on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 (© Getty Images)

Tiki Gelana, the Olympic Marathon gold medallist, will be aiming to join several other world class Ethiopian runners who have triumphed in past Bupa Great North Runs at this year's race on 16 September.

Gelana, who stunned her rivals with her surprise win at the recent London Games, headlines a superb women's line up for this IAAF Gold Label Road Race, Britain’s biggest running event which will see the 55,000 competitors trek 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields.

The 24-year-old Ethiopian record holder will feature in a line up which includes last year's World Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and her fellow Kenyan Irene Jerotich, winner of the Commonwealth title in 2010 and Great Britain's Jo Pavey making a swift transition from her Olympic track appearances back to road running.

But all eyes will be on Gelana who is the niece of Gezahegne Abera, the 2000 Sydney Games Marathon winner who has encouraged her since she was a child.

Although Gelana fell over a plastic bottle during her epic victory in London, she picked herself up to defeat the much more fancied favourites from her Kenyan neighbours at a race contested with the rain pouring down.

Now she will be attempting to emulate the victories of renowned Ethiopian stars Berhane Adere in 2006 and 2010, Gete Wami who triumphed in 2008 and the world's greatest ever female distance runner, Derartu Tulu.

"She's got a very strong Half Marathon background having lowered her personal best from 70:22 to 68:48 as part of her preparations for the Olympic Games, where she ripped apart the field in the final three miles," said Peter Riley, the Bupa Great North Run elite athletes manager.

"Kiplagat is slightly slower by only 12 seconds and having had a bad race in London where she was a disappointing 20th will obviously be looking to bounce back and restore her reputation after the setback.

"But along with Jerotich, who didn't compete in London, it will be great to see the three East African high profile Marathon gold medallists on the start line this year."

Pavey, after her two solid Olympic Games performances when finishing seventh and first European in both her 5,000m and 10,000m finals dominated by African athletes, will be looking to match that form on the roads.

"Jo's got the advantage of knowing the course very well now and after her third place behind Wami and earning fourth last year, she can always be relied upon to challenge the African runners." Riley said.

Organisers for the IAAF
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