Kenyan duo, Kemboi, Kipngetich hope to break the duck in Great Ethiopian Run

ADDIS Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan 21 – Kenya will be out to break its duck in the 21st edition of the Great Ethiopian Run Sunday in the streets of Addis Ababa.

The pair of Cornelius Kemboi and Shadrack Kipngetich will fly the Kenyan flag as they attempt to become the first East African nation to win the legendary race that is championed by the Great Haile Gebrselassie.

Last year, Kenyans could only manage to finish 21st, 27th and 35th respectively (Solomon Boit, Evans Kipkemei and Kennedy Kimutai).

With a deep field entered this year, headlined by defending champions in both men and women (Abe Gashaw and Tsigile Gebreselama), the Kenyans will face stiff challenge from Ugandans Rodgers Kibett and Daniel Kibett as well as three Eritreans in the men’s race.

Kenyans training in Etonto, Addis Ababa ahead of the Great Ethiopian Run

Kemboi and Kipngetich had an opportunity of getting a feeling of Ethiopia’s high altitude weather conditions, when they trained early morning in Entoto which is the highest peak on the Entoto Mountains, that overlooks the city of Addis Ababa, reaching 3,200 meters above sea level.

“I am here to take the title home, it’s a new course to me but with the training I have done I am confident of winning, the Ethiopians are strong but that will not deter my ambitions, this race will also prepare me for my season,” Kemboi, who was the pace setter at Valencia 10km said during the pre-race Press Conference.

His compatriot, Kipngetich voiced that he is looking forward for a 1-2 Kenyan finish.

“I will work closely with my brother Kemboi to ensure we bring it home because we are the only Kenyans in the race, I am optimistic because we have had enough training,” Kipngetich underscored.

Ugandans will be inspired by their ‘god father’ world record holder Joshua Cheptegei to break the Kenyan and hosts Ethiopian hearts.

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“We are inspired by Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei and we have belief that we will reach where they are one day. I look forward to when I will break records and I am going to do it one day,” Kibett said.

Race founder legendary Haile Gebresilassie noted that the presence of Kenyans and Ugandans will give Ethiopians a hard time even as the women’s race has attracted Anna Dibaba, the younger sisters to Tirunesh and Genzebe.

“I am so happy to see Kenyans in the race as always, because we are brothers and we have that athletics rivalry. No Kenyan has ever won the race, I hope the two competing this year have what it takes to break the jinks, and with the Ugandans on board, then it’s going to be a tough race. I wish all competitors the best,” Haile remarked. 

He confirmed that this year the participants have increased from 12,500 to 25,000.

The race had to be shelved from November 2021 to January 23, 2022 owing to the political war in Tigray region.

Conelius Kemboi, Kenyan athlete stretching in Etonto, Addis Ababa

“This year was different, we have never missed to hold one, we had to postpone from November last year because of the situation in Ethiopia it was not a good time to stage the race, but it was to think about the unity of Ethiopia,” Great Ethiopian General Manager, Dagmawit Amare said.

She added, “Now is the good time because we have peace relatively. This is a race that unifies people, so this will bring up the spirit of the nation, so it has come at the right time. The main aim of the race is developing young athletes using this event as a plat form, this is an international race and the finishing time will grant an athlete invitation to major races.”

Past winners of the race, who have gone ahead to be world beaters include Haile, who won the inaugural race in 2001, the decorated Tirunesh Dibaba and Aberu Kebede among others.

This year’s event was preceded by a media seminar where local journalists were taken through on various topics that pertains athletics with Kenyan Journalist Alex Isaboke and Ethiopia’s Girmachew Kebede.

-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-

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Publish date : 2022-01-21 21:29:35

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