Tariku Bekele winning in Castelbuono (© Organisers)
Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Tariku Bekele will be hoping to add to his family’s recent road-running success when competing at next weekend’s Bupa Great Birmingham Run, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
Bekele is confident he can add to his elder brother Kenenisa’s victory at last month’s Bupa Great North Run.
“It is very much a case of welcome back,” said Peter Riley, the meeting’s elite athletes manager. “Tariku is no stranger to the city having competed regularly both indoors at the National Indoor Arena and outdoors at Diamond League meetings hosted by Alexander Stadium.”
The 26-year-old Ethiopian, who is still enjoying a highly successful international track career, has fond memories of competing in the UK’s second city. He competed there twice last year and set PBs on both occasions, clocking 8:08.27 for two miles indoors, then 27:03.24 over 10,000m during the summer.
He made his first outing of the autumn season when clocking a very respectable 1:03:21 in last Sunday’s Half Marathon of Portugal in Lisbon. He hopes to improve on that at the Birmingham event on 20 October where his main opponents will be Abdi Abdirahman of the United States and Australia’s Collis Birmingham.
The trio’s competitiveness should ensure another fast time at the Midlands venue where Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie won the inaugural event two years ago and Kenya’s Micah Kogo flew to a course record of 1:00:17 12 months ago.
“It would be great if they could get near Micah’s time and if the early pace-making is good it is a strong possibility,” added Riley.”But they will have to be in top condition – it’s a tough record.”
Although Bekele, a relative newcomer to the road-running fraternity, is yet to crack 62 minutes for 13.1 miles, his vast potential clearly indicates he can run quicker than his personal best of 1:02:59.
Abdirahman has a much better pedigree; the four-time Olympian has a best of 1:00:29 on the slightly downhill New York City course.
But the aptly-named Birmingham will go into the competition with plenty of confidence. At the beginning of the year he blasted out an Oceania record of 1:00:56 in Japan and followed that up with an eighth-place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
“It has the makings of a close race and the ball is in the court of the favourites how quickly they take the pace out,” said Riley, who also believes Aldershot's former European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson could be in the mix for a podium position.
Organisers for the IAAF