Runners from Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and South Africa to compete at prestigious road race in Albany, NY on May 30
ALBANY, N.Y. - In the four years the Freihofer's Run for Women has been open to international athletes, only one African athlete (Asmae Leghzaoui, 2005) has ever won the coveted title and the $10,000 first place check.
That may change in 2009, as one of the deepest African fields assembles in Albany, NY for the 31st running of the fabled 5K road race Saturday, May 30 at 10:15am.
The African continent's biggest threat to unseat three-time Run for Women champion Benita Johnson is Teyba Erkesso, 26, who comes to New York's capital city having won 98th ING Bay to Breakers 12K (38:29). She also finished second at the 2009 Bloomsday Run 12K and BolderBOULDER 10K and set a course record (2:24:18) at this year's Chevron Houston Marathon.
"Teyba is definitely a threat at this year's race and has a history of competing against Benita on the Freihofer's course," said Elite Athlete Recruiter John Tope, noting that the Ethiopian finished third in 2007.
Erkesso will be joined on the start line by two countrywomen: Ashu Kasim, 24, the fourth place finisher at this year's Paris Marathon and Mamitu Daska, 25, who won the recent BolderBOULDER 10K on Memorial Day.
Kenya, another nation with a deep running history, will also be well represented. No fewer than five athletes will make the trip to upstate New York, including Jane Gakunyi, 29, who competed for her country at the 2004 Athens Olympics at 5000m; Millicent Gathoni, 22, winner of the 2008 BolderBOULDER 10K; Genoveva Kigen, 29, victor of the 2009 Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, which doubled as the USA 25K Championship; Rose Kosgei, 27, winner at this year's Hervis Prague Half Marathon; and Salome Kosgei, first place finisher at this year's Bermuda International 10K.
"Once again, Africa is well represented at Freihofer's," added Tope. "The Kenyans and Ethiopians are especially known for their daring hard style of running and are anxious to break the drought of recent years. I am sure they will be right at the front battling Benita for the title."
Other Africans expected to lead the charge include Burundi's Diane Nukuri, 24, who represented her nation at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and René Kalmer, 29, a 2008 Olympian for South Africa at 1500m, who'll be making her debut on U.S. roads at this event.
For the list of professional runners, race stats and more, go to: FriehofersRun.com.