Alemayehu Shumye of Ethiopia on the way to winning the 2008 BLOM Beirut Marathon (© LOC)
As good as his word, Alemayehu Shumye of Ethiopia won the BLOM Beirut Marathon on Sunday morning (30), obliterating the course record by over four minutes in the process, with 2:12:47.
Shumye won by over three minutes, with Michael Kipkorir of Kenya second in 2:16:15, and another Ethiopian, Hussen Adem third in 2:16:44. All three were inside the previous record of 2:17:04, set by Paul Rugut of Kenya, in the inaugural race in 2003.
There was an Ethiopian 1-2-3 in the women’s race.
I started because of Haile
It is rare to hear an Ethiopian or Kenyan predicting victory, but 20-year-old Alemayehu is no shrinking violet. Not only did he say he was going to win two days before the race, but he criticised the pacemaker (one of his colleagues) afterwards for going too slow. Oh, and he says he wants to emulate his hero, Haile Gebrselassie. But it’s all said with a smile and so much charm that it’s hard to see anyone holding it against him.
“After 28k, I had to go by myself,” he said immediately after the race. “The pace was too slow, but it was very windy also, and a little hot. If not, I could do 2:11 today.” It was quite fresh, around 12C at the 7am start, but the sun in clear blue Mediterranean skies made the finish temperature of 18C seem much hotter.
Shumye comes from Nazret, 100 kilometres east of Addis Ababa, but only took up running four years ago, after moving to the Ethiopian capital. “I started because of Haile, I want to be like him,” he said. Three wins out of three in marathons this year, with a best of 2:11:50, when winning the Warsaw Marathon (28 Sep), is a good start.
The women’s race was dominated by the Ethiopians, Alemtsehay Hailu winning in 2:37:20, from Tadelech Birra, 2:37:58, with Wudnesh Nega third in 2:39:09.
Alemayehu’s record time was also a successful step-up for the marathon organisers, who have succeeded on mobilising a population traumatised by 30 years of conflict into getting out onto the scarred streets for something positive. Inside five years, they have built their ancillary fun-runs, five and 10k races, into events which attracted close to 30,000 people today.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
1 Alemayehu Shumwe ETH 2:12:47
2 Michael Kipkorir KEN 2:16:15
3 Hussen Adem ETH 2:16:44
4 Ibrahim Limo KEN 2:17:38
5 Peterson Wachira KEN 2:18:00
6 Tilahun Woeku ETH 2:21:43
1 Alemtsehay Hailu ETH 2:37:20
2 Tadelech Birra ETH 2:37:58
3 Wudnesh Nega ETH 2:39:09