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Belay Tilahun wins the Bix 7, the first time an Ethiopian has won this race

Belay Tilahun of Ethiopia wins the Quad-City Times Bix 7. Tilahun finished second in 2016. Margaret Muriuki of Kenya captured the 2018 women's Quad-City Times Bix 7 on Saturday.  Belay Tilahun pulled away in the final mile to claim the victory, In a winning time of 32:37, Tilahun became the first runner from Ethiopia to win the Bix 7. “I’m very happy,” Tilahun told KWQC after beating NCAA 10K champion Ben Flanagan and 2016 U.S. Olympian Leonard Korir down the final stretch. Kipruto finished fifth and Mekonen crossed the line a few seconds later in sixth-place. Tilahun became the first Ethiopian man ever to win the Bix 7 after several near-misses in the past. Reigning NCAA 10,000-meter champion Ben Flanagan recorded the highest finish ever by a Canadian in the race, crossing the line in second place. Andrew Colley of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, took fourth, the highest an American has placed in an international field at Bix since Meb Keflezighi was third in 2013. It’s the highest a native-born American has finished since Ken Martin won the race in 1991. Colley was one of four Americans in the top 10. It’s the first time that has happened since that same 1991 race. But all of them were mere footnotes to Tilahun, who showed interviewers with hand gestures how he navigated the incessant hills of the course and was able to convey the fact that it helped him to have run Bix once before. Ethiopians have been very close to winning the Bix 7 in the past. Tilahun was second behind three-time winner Silas Kipruto in 2016 and Solomon Deksisa took second the year before that. In one of the strangest episodes in Bix history, Ethiopia’s Maregu Zewdie was leading coming down 4th Street in the 2008 Bix but stopped after crossing under the skywalk at the Davenport RiverCenter, thinking that was the finish line. Kenya’s Edward Muge zoomed past him to win. He had a small lead on Flanagan and the rest of the pack coming down Kirkwood in the fifth mile of the race when he decided to just take control. In what seemed little more than a blink of the eye, he opened about a 7-second margin over Flanagan. Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 Fullscreen   00:00 Mute“I don’t know if surprised is the word but I was impressed,’’ said Flanagan, who just completed his college career at the University of Michigan last month. “I knew coming in here there was a lot of really experienced runners who knew the course well. That was very evident by that move. (07/30/2018) ⚡AMP
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Two years ago Silas Kipruto was leading the Bix 7 when suddenly he whirled around and took a swipe at Mekonen, now they are friends

When it happened along Kirkwood Boulevard two years ago, it became national news in the running world. Silas Kipruto was loping along, leading the Quad-City Times Bix 7 as he has so often through the years, when he suddenly whirled around and took a right-handed swipe at young Teshome Mekonen, who was running directly behind him. It’s just not the sort of thing you see in road racing. No one could recall seeing anything like it. Not in the Bix 7. Not in any race. Mekonen filed a post-race protest that was denied because the incident did not have an impact on the outcome. Kipruto did not even make contact with his swing. Here’s the happy news: Kipruto and Mekonen have become friends, buddies pals. "Brothers," Kipruto said as he stood outside one of the townhouses on the St. Ambrose University campus Thursday afternoon. "We were friends before," he added. "But I came to him after the race, and now we are friends like brothers, really good friends." Chances are, they shared a plate or two of ugali in the kitchen area at St. Ambrose on Thursday night. They may run the Bix course together today in preparation for Saturday’s 44th annual race. Kipruto, who is 11 years older at 33 and much more familiar with the Davenport race, may even give his pal a few pointers on how to navigate the hills of Bix. "We hang around together," Mekonen said. "We have a good time." It’s somewhat unusual because Kipruto is from Kenya and Mekonen is from Ethiopia. Runners from the two neighboring east African countries have a history of being less than friendly as they battle for supremacy in races across the U.S. (07/27/2018) ⚡AMP
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NCAA champ Ben Flanagan may be the underdog at the Bix 7 but don't count him out

Ben Flanagan will be a decided underdog when he steps to the starting line in Saturday’s 44th annual Quad-City Times Bix 7. After all, the 23-year-old Canadian hasn’t run a road race of any distance since he was in the ninth grade. He certainly hasn’t run a race full of steep hills in the sometimes suffocating heat of late July against a field filled with battle-hardened Kenyans and Ethiopians, many of whom are very familiar with a course he’s never even seen before. But you get the feeling Flanagan kind of likes being the underdog. And he often responds positively when placed in that role. You needn’t look any further than the 10,000-meter race at the NCAA Division I track and field meet about seven weeks ago. Flanagan, a fifth-year senior at the University of Michigan, was seeded 19th in the race. He hadn’t even qualified for the NCAA meet the previous year because of a litany of injuries. He ran in the wake of Alabama star Vincent Kiprop the entire way but on the 25th and final lap, he found the strength to surge past Kiprop and spring one of the biggest upsets in recent NCAA history. He admitted he probably even surprised himself that day. (07/26/2018) ⚡AMP
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A strong women's elite field is set for the Bix 7 this weekend

Three of the elite runners in the women’s field are from Illinois. The best known of them is Chelsea Blaase, who is from the small town of St. Joseph near Champaign and had a great career at the University of Tennessee. She was fifth in the NCAA 10,000 meters in 2016 and seventh in 2017 as well as placing fifth in the Bix 7 last year. Kelly McShea, from Lisle, ran collegiately at Illinois State and Kristen Heckert, who lives in Bolingbrook and teaches algebra at Plainfield South High School, competed at Illinois-Chicago. The women’s runner who has had the most past success in the Bix is Kenya’s Caroline Rotich, who won the race in 2011 and has placed in the top three on three occasions since then. She is not the only woman in the field who has run well on the streets of Davenport, however. Margaret Muriuki won the race the only previous time she ran it (in 2012), Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba was second in 2013 and Monicah Ngige has a pair of top-10 Bix finishes on her resume.Sydney Devore had a highly successful high school cross country career in Lakeland, Florida, but gave up running after suffering an injury as a freshman at the University of Florida. She resumed her career in 2015 and at the age of 26, is now an up and coming competitor on the U.S. scene. She attempted a marathon for the first time earlier this year and won, turning in the fastest time in four years at the Pittsburgh Marathon. (07/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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Meb Keflezighi is running the Quad-City Times Bix 7 for the ninth time

The Keflezighi family, including Meb and nine siblings, fled to Milan, Italy, and eventually settled in San Diego. He took up competitive distance running in high school, became a star at UCLA and became an American hero when he won the silver medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon and won the 2009 New York City Marathon. Meb Keflezigh became a superhero in 2014 when he became the first American citizen in 31 years to win the Boston Marathon. It was the year after a bomb exploded at the race, taking the lives of three people. He ran that race with the names of the victims written on his race bib. Along the way, Keflezighi also has developed an affectionate relationship with the Quad-City Times Bix 7. He won the Bix 7 in 2002 and 2009, when it served as the U.S. championship race for seven miles, and he has placed in the top 10 on six other occasions. At the age of 43, he has retired from competitive running but still participates in several races a year, often doing so in support of some sort of charitable cause. He is scheduled to run the 44th annual Bix 7 on July 28. (07/24/2018) ⚡AMP
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Bill Rodgers never misses the Bix 7 even with lingering achilles tendinitis

In another year at another time, Bill Rodgers might have been looking at running the Quad-City Times Bix 7 in 51 minutes. The most revered marathoner in U.S. distance running history turned 70 in December, and that’s the Bix 7 course record for runners 70 and over — 51 flat by Warren Bystedt back in 2000. Rodgers already holds the course record for runners in the 45-49 and 50-54 age groups, but this time he figures he’ll be lucky just to get up and down the grueling, undulating hills of the Bix in one piece. "I’m running, but I’m not running very fast," Rodgers said. "Hopefully, I can keep myself together for the Bix." Rodgers admits that running an estimated 200,000 miles over the past seven decades has taken its toll. He hasn’t approached the 51-minute mark in the Bix 7 since 2009, and he’s been in the 55-56-minute range each of the past five years. This year, he has been plagued by an Achilles injury that has limited him to just a handful of races. But he wouldn’t miss the Bix 7. In 1984, he had such a serious case of the flu that doctors advised him not to even get on an airplane. He came and ran the Bix anyway. In 2010, he was battling prostate cancer. He still came to the Bix. He will be running the race for the 39th consecutive year, by far the most he has done any race. But he cautioned that what he will be doing may not qualify as running, at least not by the standards of a man who has won 22 marathons and hundreds of road races. Early in the year, Rodgers was doing most of his running in swimming pools just to limit the wear and tear on his legs. "That’s the interesting challenge for us older runners …," he said. "You have to adapt and do more cross training, like swimming or cycling. The other runners do it, too, but for older runners it’s really a prerequisite. (07/16/2018) ⚡AMP
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