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Posted: September 10, 2014  

Athletics: Tsegaye Mekonnen and Getu Feleke chase rare Ethiopian victory in BMW Frankfurt Marathon

Kenyan runners have dominated the men’s race of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon for more than a decade. The past twelve champions of Germany’s oldest city marathon have all come from Kenya. However this win streak will be tested to the limits and it could well be the Ethiopians who finally make the headlines again this autumn. 30 years ago Frankfurt’s sole Ethiopian male winner in the history of the race, Dereje Nedi, ran a course record of 2:11:18. Back in 1984 this was a first-class performance and a record that stood for 13 years. Organisers today announced that two highly regarded Ethiopians will compete in the BMW Frankfurt Marathon on 26th October: Tsegaye Mekonnen and Getu Feleke. The women’s race will also feature a world-class runner from this country, Aberu Kebede.

Around 15,000 runners are expected to take part in the BMW Frankfurt Marathon with online race entry still available. The 33rd edition of the event is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

It was Tsegaye Mekonnen who stunned the world of road running early in the year, when he smashed the unofficial world junior record in his debut at the distance. Winning the highly competitive Dubai Marathon in January with a time of 2:04:32 he became the eleventh fastest marathon runner ever at the age of just 18. The way he ran away from top-class contenders in the final stages of the race suggests that there is much more to come from Tsegaye Mekonnen. “I could have run faster, but all of us in the leading group lost some energy during the first part of the race. This was because the pace changed so often. It seemed that the pacemaker was doing some kind of fartlek,” said Tsegaye Mekonnen who turned 19 in the meantime. With a more even pace expected in Frankfurt he hopes to break the Ethiopian record of 2:03:59. The current national record holder is superstar Haile Gebrselassie, who Mekonnen describes as his idol.

With a sub 2:04 time targeted the course record of Wilson Kipsang, who ran 2:03:42 in 2011, would be within reach. The Kenyan is also the world record holder with 2:03:23 and the current world leader with 2:04:29 – just three seconds faster than Mekonnen’s time from Dubai.

Such fast times would not deter Getu Feleke. Coming back from health problems which stopped him for almost a year in 2013 he clocked an amazing course record of 2:05:41 in the Vienna City Marathon this April despite some stomach problems. With this time the 27 year-old is the seventh fastest marathon runner in the world this year. Feleke’s PB stands at 2:04:50. But he hopes for much faster times. “My dream is to break the world record. I train very hard for this,” said Feleke after his Vienna victory, where he smashed the course record by more than a minute.

Aberu Kebede will be among the favourites when she comes to Frankfurt. There was much more Ethiopian success in the women’s race in the past few years. In 2012 Meselech Melkamu established the present course record of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon with 2:21:01. The aim is now to push that mark to below 2:20. Kebede has already come very close to that barrier of women’s marathon running. Just 24 years old she is a two time Berlin Marathon champion and also won major marathons in Rotterdam and Tokyo. Kebede ran her personal best of 2:20:30 in Berlin in 2012 and clocked sub 2:25 times on eight occasions.

Information and online entry is available at: BMW-Frankfurt-Marathon.com.

Tsegaye Mekonnen winning the Dubai Marathon in January, Credit: www.photorun.net


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