Yemane Tsegay wins the 2014 Ottawa Marathon (© organisers / Victah Sailor)
Despite much of the course blanketed in an early morning fog, the 2014 Scotiabank Ottawa marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, saw Ethiopia’s Yemane Tsegay and Tigist Tufa produce course records on Sunday (25).
After passing the halfway point in 1:02:45, the men’s lead pack gradually succumbed to the effort, leaving Tsegay alone in front for the last 12 kilometres. Despite repeatedly looking over his shoulder to assess his lead, and occasionally rubbing his right hamstring, which was cramping, the 29-year-old crossed the line in 2:06:54.
The victory earned him a $20,000 first place prize and a $10,000 course record bonus.
In addition, he claimed $10,000 and a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe car for breaking the Canadian all-comers’ mark of 2:07:05 that had been set at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October by Tsegay’s countryman, Derissa Chimsa.
Mulugeta Wami, the brother of 1999 IAAF World Championships 10,000m gold medallist Gete Wami, finished second in 2:08:18 with Kenya’s Ishimael Chemtan lowering his personal best to finish third in 2:08:35.
For Tsegay, a former winner of the Rotterdam Marathon, it was an incredible victory.
Seven weeks ago, he won the Daegu Marathon in a course record 2:06:51 and many here doubted his ability to be back in form so soon after that race.
“Today I am very happy because I broke the (Ottawa) course record (2:08:05). All through the race I pushed the pacemakers,” revealed Tsegay.
“If they slowed down I pushed. After 30km, my hamstring hurt, the course was very difficult up hill and downhill. It is not good to go hard downhill with a sore hamstring.
“I was looking around to make sure to keep the gap between me and the others. Sometimes you push and push, but people might come up. So I kept my time. I had the intention of breaking the record. Everybody runs to win but only one person wins: that was the ultimate goal. I am not concerned with how many races I ran but (how many) I have won.”
Tufa the toughest
A well balanced women’s field ran conservatively the first half reaching 21km in 1:13:28 but in the next five kilometres it was the diminutive Tufa who accelerated to open a gap over her challengers.
Agnes Kiprop, of Kenya, was the last survivor as Tufu went on to run the back end of the course in 1:11:03 and achieve the record with a time of 2:24:31.
Kiprop, who had raced in Nagoya two months ago, struggled in the final stages of the race and was passed by Ethiopian marathon debutante Meseret Tolwak.
Tolwak ran a fine 2:27:26 while Kiprop hung on to third in 2:28:05
“I was really prepared to win,” said Tufa, through a broad grin. “I have done all the training I should do. My intention was to win and I did it. It was really nice but the idea was to break the record. I had no difficulties.
“The people encouraged me; they were really nice. After this race I will improve my time. My next marathon is in New York and I will work hard in training and I am sure I will make it.”
For 11 months, Tufa lived in The Bronx, New York, but was unhappy there and decided to return to Addis Ababa in December to try her hand at professional running.
She joined the group of coach Haji Adilo and the result has been quick and substantial.
Meanwhile, Kiprop was left thinking of what she could have done better to prepare for this race. With a personal best of 2:23:54 she was disappointed with her Ottawa outing.
“Yes, it was tough because it is the first time I have done two marathons in two months,” she explained.
On 9 March, she had finished sixth in the Nagoya Marathon with 2:27:51.
“I was not expecting to run fast because my preparation was poor. I think the first place girl maybe she prepared only for this race. I don’t have regrets but maybe I will do only two marathon in a year and not three. I am happy with third but next time I will only do two marathons as usual” reflected Kiprop.
Paul Gains for the IAAF