Ethiopia’s Genet Getaneh produced the greatest upset in the short four-year history of the Toyota Great Ethiopian Run, setting a new course record to win the women’s title in this morning’s race.
The 10km road race was run in the Ethiopian capital, in the presence of the Ethiopian State President Meles Zenawi, Addis Ababa City Mayor Arkebe Equbay, and IAAF President Lamine Diack.
In the men’s race, Abebe Dinkessa took advantage of the last minute withdrawal of Ethiopian Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine to win his first Great Ethiopian Run title.
WOMEN - Getaneh takes major scalps
There were also some last minute withdrawals from the women’s race as Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Ejegayehou Dibaba, like her male counterpart Sileshi Sihine, chose not to take part in this road race in order to concentrate on her preparations for the cross country season.
However, that did little to dampen the spirits of more than 150 women elite runners headed by the likes of Teyiba Erkesso (World Cross short course bronze silver medallist) and African 5000m champion Eyerusalem Kuma.
Despite alternating the lead between themselves, Kuma and Erkesso eventually had no answer to the killer pace of the little-known Genet Getaneh, who overtook the duo with one kilometre to go before the finish. She won the race and set a new course record time of 34:18, sixteen seconds better than the previous mark set by Werknesh Kidane in 2002.
Erkesso came second in 34:30, while Kuma (34:33) was a close third as the top three runners went under Kidane’s previous record time of 34:34.
The win is a big improvement for Getaneh who finished sixteenth in last year’s race. The 20-year said that she was delighted to have got the better of her more illustrious opponents. “It was great to win this race,” she said. “However, I planned my own tactics for this race and ran without any pressure.”
Getaneh was part of the Ethiopian team that won the Yokohama Ekiden in January 2004 in her only race outside Ethiopian soil, but admits that winning the women’s race here is arguably the greatest achievement of her short career.
“Running in Japan was great, but I can say that I am happier by my win here,” she confirmed.
MEN - Dinkessa’s killer sprint wipes out the opposition
In the men’s race, Ethiopia’s African 10,000m silver medallist Abebe Dinkessa was just three seconds short of breaking the course record. He won in a time of 29:57, beating Zenbaba Yigezu and Maeregu Zewde who occupied the other places on the medal podium.
After a frantic start, with the 20,000 field only calmed thanks to an appeal from Haile Gebrselassie, a small group of ten runners passed the 2km with little-known Roba Gebre leading them in 5:20. He kept a hold on the race until six kilometres with Dinkessa, Zewde, Z.Yigezu, and Abdissa Sorry, all in close contention.
The leading group eventually dwindled to eight runners with Gebre maintaining his place at the front followed be Zewde, Dinkessa, Z. Yigezu, and Gabo Burka, with Sorry the first to leave the pack.
Dinkessa made the decisive break at the 7.5km mark with only Gebre staying with him as the pair opened a gap of 20 metres on the other six runners. Then as the pair went up a small uphill, Dinkessa produced a killer sprint that Gebre could not handle.
Dinkessa passed 8kms in 22:15 extending his lead to 40m as he continued to accelerate towards the finish line. Gebre, second until 8kms, was caught by Z. Yigezu and Zewde as the pair went past him to try and catch Dinkessa.
But this was Dinkessa’s day, and he crossed the line in a reasonable time of 29:57, with Yegezu coming just four seconds adrift in second, and Zewde, Ethiopia’s African 5000m champion, coming in third.
Dinkessa had run the 12km longest leg to help the Ethiopian team win the men’s race at the Chiba Ekiden last Tuesday, but did not feel any effects of that run. “Considering that I had to run the longest leg and waste two days flying back here, I am very happy with the result,” he said. “The weather was a bit difficult, but I have managed to win.”
He added that his decisive break after 7kms came very naturally. “The uphill at 7kms helped me to sprint clear because I usually run very well climbing up hills,” he said. “I am suffering from a knee injury which prevented me from accelerating at the finish, but I am satisfied. I could have bettered the course record if I had not slowed down after 8kms.”
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
2004 TOYOTA Great Ethiopian Run
Position - Name - Club - Time
1 Abebe Dinkessa Prisons 29:57
2 Zenbaba Yegezu Prisons 30:01
3 Maeregu Zewde Prisons 30:04
4 Gebo Burka Prisons 30:09
5 Lishan Yigezu St. George 30:13
6 Alene Emere Defense 30:20
7 Solomon Tsige St. George 30:23
8 Solomon Molla Banks 30:24
9 Roba Gebre Unity College 30:26
10 Abate Atafetegne Negash 30:27
1 Genet Getaneh Prisons 34:18
2 Teyiba Erkesso Prisons 34:30
3 Eyerusalem Kuma Prisons 34:33
4 Teke Gelaneh Oromiya Prisons 34:36
5 Amani Godana Muger 34:47
6 Adanech Zekiros Prisons 34:48
7 Emebet Beta Amodias 34:49
8 Aheza Kiros EEPCO 34:56
9 Meron Negassa Yenegew Sew 35:05
10 Asnaketch Mengistu Oromiya Prisons 35:14