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Abe Gashahun and Tsigie Gebreselama, winners of Great Ethiopian Run

On Sunday, the Great Ethiopian Run was held in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and thousands of runners showed up to compete in the 10K race. This marked the 20th running of the event, which was created by Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie.

The elite races, which featured 300 athletes, saw two close finishes, with Ethiopians Abe Gashahun and Tsigie Gebreselama taking the wins in the men’s and women’s races by one and two seconds, respectively.

In total, more than 12,000 runners participated in the race, which is reportedly the biggest African sporting event to take place since the start of the pandemic.

In 2018 Gebreselama finished in third at the Great Ethiopian Run. The year after, she upgraded to a second-place finish. On Sunday, at what was still billed as the 2020 race, she ran to the win, completing a three-year climb to the top of the podium. She crossed the line in 32:33, finishing two seconds ahead of Medihen Gebreselasie and 10 seconds in front of Gebeyanesh Ayele, both of whom are also Ethiopian. Gebreselama’s result is the fourth-fastest time in race history. 

In the men’s race, Gashahun took the win in 28:20, finishing just one second off the 15-year-old course record of 28:19. This is Gashahun’s second win at the Great Ethiopian Run, adding to his victory from 2016.

Gashahun’s fellow Ethiopians Milkesa Mengesha and Tadese Worku made him work hard for the win, and the trio battled for the top spot throughout most of the race. While Mengesha eventually faded to a 28:40 third-place finish, Worku stuck it out until the very end, falling just short of the win in 28:21. 

The run takes place at more than 2,300m above sea level, which accounts for slower results than elites would normally run. For context, 76 Ethiopian men have run faster than Gashahun’s 28:20 winning time and 118 Ethiopian women have better PBs than Gebreselama’s 32:33 result. 

COVID-19 guidelines  

While the Great Ethiopian Run hosted a shockingly large field of athletes, there were COVID-19 guidelines in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Firstly, the event was moved from its original November 2020 run date until Sunday to give organizers more time to prepare for a COVID-friendly race.

The next-biggest change was the reduction of the field size from the pre-pandemic cap of 50,000 runners down to 12,500. Masks were mandatory on race day (other than when on the course), all athletes had their temperatures checked before the run and the race featured a wave start to make social distancing easier during the 10K.

The call to hold the event with such a large field drew criticism from many people in the international running community, but Gebrselassie and his Great Ethiopian Run team ultimately moved forward with their event, reportedly working closely with local health experts and government officials. 

(01/11/2021) Views: 177 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Three Kenyans, Solomon Boit, Evans Kipkemei and Kennedy Kimutai will battle ethiopians in Addis abba as race marks 20 years

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will Sunday host the 20th anniversary of Great Ethiopian Run - Africa’s largest mass participation sports event post-coronavirus lockdown - with founder Haile Gebrselassie confident the 10-kilometre road race will continue serving the greater good.

Speaking at a pre-race press conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Addis Ababa on Friday, Gebrselassie, a multiple world record holder in distance running, said the race will continue to make positive contribution beyond prize money.

Already, the distance running legend has built a school with proceeds from the annual race’s sponsorship with plans underway for the construction of another in partnership with the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

The former world record holder in the marathon and 10,000 metres also paid tribute to the great rivalry between Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes saying it helped raise the bar in African athletics.

He singled out his career-long running nemesis Paul Tergat for his contribution to the sport.

“Without Tergat the sport wouldn’t be as exciting as it is… he’s my friend and I even feel as though he’s right here with us now,” Gebrselassie, also a successful businessman said.

Tergat had been invited for this weekend’s 20th anniversary race but couldn’t travel as he is attending to his brother and other relatives who were involved in a freak road accident in Baringo County recently.

“Haile Gebrselassie, the legend, my brother, my friend and my worthy competitor in our hey days on the track, in cross country and on the roads, stands out tall for bequeathing Africa with such an incredible mass race that celebrates 20 amazing years this weekend,” Tergat wrote in a message to the organizers.

“Haile stands out as a giant, and one great role model to mankind through the way he was a success in his long professional athletics career, and by the way he has been a tremendous success also in his business undertakings after retiring from athletics.”

The Great Ethiopian Run has been forced to adjust to Covid-19 protocols that include a reduced number of runners starting the race in three separate waves to avoid congestion and to allow for greater distancing.

Three Kenyans – Solomon Boit, Evans Kipkemei and Kennedy Kimutai – are among a trimmed field of 300 elite runners who will line up at the iconic Meskel Square for the race’s start on Sunday.

(01/08/2021) Views: 222 ⚡AMP
by Elias Makori
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Haile Gebrselassie prepares for the 20th edition of the Great Ethiopian Run will go ahead next month with many COVID-19 precautions in place

Two-time Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie announced on Tuesday that he and the Great Ethiopian Run (GER) organizers plan on going ahead with their race in a month’s time on January 10.

This will be the 20th edition of the 10K race in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, an event that Gebrselassie founded in 2000 after he won his second Olympic 10,000m gold medal at the Sydney Games. Gebrselassie says he and his organizing team are expecting 12,500 participants to toe the line at the January race, and they have a number of COVID-19 precautions in place to make the event as safe as possible for everyone involved. 

The GER was originally scheduled for November, but organizers decided to postpone the event for a couple of months. As explained on the event website, the GER team has used this extra time to consult with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to create COVID-19 guidelines that will be enforced on race day. The biggest change for the upcoming run is the race capacity, which has been reduced to about a quarter of its normal size. The expected field of 12,500 is close to 30,000 fewer runners than the GER saw in 2019. This is by no means a small field, especially during a pandemic, but it is substantially smaller than organizers have seen in years past.

The week before the run, all participants will receive their race shirts along with masks, which will be mandatory on race day. Only when on the race course will athletes be permitted to remove their masks. On the day, all participants will undergo temperature checks, and organizers have asked anyone who feels unwell or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to skip the race. A wave start will be implemented, with groups leaving in 15-minute intervals, and runners will have to carry their own water on the course, as there will be no hydration stations on the route. Finally, an “exit flow operation” will be organized to avoid crowds at the finish line.

While Gebrselassie’s announcement was welcome news to some, many people have been critical of the call to hold the race while COVID-19 persists around the world. This has been a popular topic of debate in recent months, as more and more races have made comebacks or announced plans to return to racing during the pandemic. 

(12/17/2020) Views: 203 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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