Toronto, CanadaLong distance runners are continually looking for improvement and Netsanet Achamo is no exception.
Supporters of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon are in for a treat, therefore, when the 24-year-old Ethiopian star returns to Canada’s premier Marathon on 14 October.
Achamo ran with the leaders through 30 kilometres during the 2011 edition of this race before fading, due to an injury. She eventually finished fifth. But she has raised her profile considerably this year beginning with a victory at the Mumbai Marathon on 15 January. She set a new course record of 2:26:12 in the process.
Just three months later she lowered her personal best time to 2:24:12 while finishing second in Hamburg. Now, with almost six consecutive months of high altitude training in her home of Addis, she will line up against a world class field at Toronto’s IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
"I will try and win the race and improve my personal best on the beautiful roads of Toronto," Achamo declares confidently. The prospects of earning some prize money is also on her mind.
"I know money will come at the finishing line. At the moment my first target is to win the race with a course record. Money is second."
The course record of 2:22:43 is held jointly by Sharon Cherop of Kenya and one of Achamo’s training partners, Koren Yal. Scotiabank, the race title sponsor, is putting up $35,000 for a new record. Winners will also receive $20,000 while second place is worth $12,000. That’s a considerable sum in East Africa and certainly a major enticement.
Up until 2011 Achamo was primarily a 3000m steeplechaser having represented her nation at the 2006 All African Championships, where she was 4th, and at the 2007 IAAF World Championships. Though she had recorded a very good time of 9:28.03 her coaches suggested the Marathon might be her best event. She also played club volleyball in her teens but gave up the sport when she was dropped from the team.
"I train with the Demadonna athlete group," she says making reference to her manager Gianni Demadonna. "Among them are Tirfi Tsagaye (2:21:40 this year in Paris), Koren Yal (2:22:43 Toronto 2011) and other top class runners and my coaches are Gemedu Dedefo and Gebeyehu Berihun.
"It is different from week to week and month to month but the average we run in a week is between 180km and 220km."
Achamo is capable of running from the front as she proved in Mumbai. There she led almost from the beginning of the race before quickly opening up a 30 second gap at 25km. Over the remaining 17 kilometres she extended that margin to four minutes. In Toronto, no doubt she will have plenty of company and if the weather conditions are good we may well see a very fast time.
"Last year the race was very fast in the first 30 kilometres with Koren Yal and Mare Dibaba and me and after 10 kilometres my legs felt an injury," she recalls. "I finished in 5th place in 2:32. I want to win this year."