Monday, 08 January 2018 14:30

Ethiopia's Fatuma Sado wins in Xiamen International Marathon, IAAF

Ethiopia's Fatuma Sado  overcame a second race at the Xiamen International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Road Race Label , on Sunday (7).

As the winner of 2013, Sado and defending champion Meseret Mengistu were both considered leaders in the women's race in the Chinese coastal city.

However, the 27-year-old reigning champion, who was also the fastest entrant with a personal best of 2:23:25 from her victory at the 2015 Paris Marathon, dropped out of the leading group soon after the start.

Running in rainy conditions, Ethiopians including Sado, Muluhabt Tsega, Hirut Alemayehu and Tigist Memuye paced the race to 15 kilometers in 51:11. After a few kilometers both Tsega, who set the race record of 2:28:08 at the 2017 Hangzhou Marathon, and Memuye, the winner of last year's Zheng-Kai Marathon, were unable to keep up with the pacers.

Sado and the 24-year-old Alemayehu ran shoulder-to-shoulder for just another one kilometer before Sado pulled away as she approached the halfway mark to seize the sole lead.

The experienced Sado, with marathon titles in Hamburg, Los Angeles, Beijing and Warsaw to her name, hit 25 kilometers in 1:25:14, 30 in 1:42:42 and when she passed the water tables at 35 kilometers she had already a comfortable lead of more than two minutes.

However, Sado's pace is gradually being reduced in the last five kilometers with a pained expression on her face. With just several hundred meters to go, she stopped to vomit.

After a few seconds, Sado continues to run and wrapped up in 2:26:41 to extend Ethiopian women's winning streak in Xiamen to nine. Her winning mark is 2:25 shy of her 2:24:16 PB set at the 2015 Toronto Marathon. Fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba set the record race of 2:19:52 in 2015.

Alemayehu trimmed more than six minutes off her pb to finish second in 2:30:09. It was only his second race over the classic distance. Last year she clocked 2:36:55 to finish sixth in Hefei, China.

Defending champion Mengistu rallied to take third in 2:30:15, more than four minutes shy of her winning mark of 2:25:58 last year.

The men’s race also saw a sweep of the podium by Ethiopians.

Dejene Debela, who owns a PB of 2:07:10 from his fourth place finish in Eindhoven last year, emerged victorious from a three-man battle in the last kilometer to his first marathon title in 2:11:22.

The race was paced by 11 runners to 10 kilometres in 31:01, 15 kilometres in 46:47 and 20 in 1:02:41. After the halfway mark the leading pack started to shrink.

When the leaders hit the 35 th kilometer, only five men were left, including pre-race favorites Ayele Abshero of Ethiopia, who was a PB of 2:04:23 when winning the 2012 Dubai Marathon, and his compatriot Deribe Robi, whose PB is 2:05:58.

Ukraine's Ihor Olefirenko, who was 18th at the IAAF World Championships London 2017, slowed after 38 kilometers. And the 27-year-old Robi also left the title contest before reaching marker 40.

Debela, Abshero and Tariku Bekele, the 10,000m bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games London with a marathon PB of 2:09:33 set last year, standing together until the final 1000 meters. Then Debela launched his powerful load for the win.

Ten meters before the line, Debela looked back to check his advantage and opened his arms to begin his celebration.

It was only the fourth race for Debela since his debut in marathon in 2016. And the victory can well serve as a birthday gift for him as he will turn 23 in two days.

The 30-year-old Bekele finished second in 2:11:29 while the 27-year-old Abshero, the fastest man on paper, failed to live up to expectations and was forced to settle for third in 2:11:33.