Winner Hiwot Ayalew (centre) with 2nd placed Makda Haroun (l) and third placer Tsega Gelaw (r) after 2010 Addis Ababa XC champs (Bizuayehu Wagaw) © Copyright
General News Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Desisa and Ayalew take senior titles at Addis Ababa XC Champs

Half marathon runner Lelisa Disasa and newcomer Hiwot Ayalew were impressive winners of the 28th edition of the MOHA Addis Ababa Cross Country Championships in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Organized by the Addis Ababa Athletics Federation, the championships saw a total of 41clubs taking part in two-days of high-standard competition. 

Great finish sees Disasa win 12km title

The performance of the day came from Lelisa Disasa, winner of the Ottawa 10km and third placer in the Zayed Half Marathon in February earlier this year, who took a deserved victory in the senior men’s 12km race.

The mid-day start of the race did not help the runners make an ambitious beginning to the six-lap contest. But the stifling conditions did make for an exciting tactical contest.

A tight race began to open up with two laps of the race remaining with Disasa leading his club mates from the Federal Police sports club Werknesh Tesfu and Abdisa Sori in a three-man contest. The trio moved ahead of the rest of the pack after successful doing their teamwork in the previous lap. Disasa made the first move which encouraged both his teammates to follow suit. After slight resistance, Disasa finally had his way towards the middle of the last lap to take victory in 34.43 ahead of Tesfu (34:52) and Sori (34:53).

"I was prepared for a half marathon in Abu Dhabi after two months, but was asked to run for my club and used this competition as practice,” said Disasa. “The start time of the race was lunch time and the scorching sun did not allow me to run faster. Anyways it was a good competition and I am happy to win."

Newcomer Ayalew surprises in senior women’s 8km

The domestic cross country season in Ethiopia is unearthing new champions. The latest of the new finds came in the senior women’s 8km race with Hiwot Ayalew surprising many of the country’s top distance runners to take an unlikely victory.

But it was not as if the known runners did not make a huge effort. Led by the 2008 African 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist and Olympian Mekdes Bekele, a large pack came through the opening half of the race at a blistering pace. Initially, they did not seem to mind when Ayalew took the lead just past the halfway point probably dismissing her efforts as tactical ineptness by an upcoming teenager.

Behind Ayalew, a bunch of athletes from the Defence and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia clubs put the pressure on the youngster. A lap later, Ayalew opened up a lead and continued to push on the pace until the halfway point of the last lap where the gap between her and Federal Prisons clubs runner Makeda Haroun appeared to be more 100m.

Encouraged by an appreciative crowd, Ayalew eased up a bit going into the finishing bend clocking 26.56 for victory. Haroun held on for second, but was 13seconds behind the impressive winner. Tsega Gelaw was third in 27.23.

"I trained well and prepared as much I can for this competition,” said the race winner. “As the race was tough, I tried to use my own tactics because I am not good in finishing. I compete over the cross country, road, and track, but I prefer track racing."

Impressive Yenew, Anteneh take junior titles

It’s a tradition every year that a long distance battle takes place between two prolific women junior runners. And like Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba in the early part of the decade and then Sule Utura and Genzebe Dibaba two years ago, Emebet Anteneh and Genet Yalew are now the tonic of the domestic season since last year. Their last international battle came at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada where Anteneh finished second in the women’s 3000m contest behind Kenyan Mercy Cherono, while Yalew was a distant fourth.

Their latest battle here confirmed that Anteneh, after initially losing three races against Yalew in 2009, is on the ascendency with yet another piece of clinical finishing in the women’s junior race. But like the previous contests, Yalew played her part in a vibrant duel taking a large pack of 20 runners in the early stages of the race and changing the nature of the race from a closed tactical contest to an open-ended individual battle.

The leading positions continued to exchange until the third and final lap where six including Yalew and Anteneh remained at the bell. But yet again, Anteneh showed her finishing qualities by moving ahead in the middle of the lap and taking a close victory in 19.54, just two seconds ahead of Azmera Gebru, who beat Yalew for second.

“I was preparing for a cross country race in Spain, but our club boss asked me to represent the club in this race,” said Anteneh who run much of the early stages in the middle of the pack. “I am very happy for the win in this race. I was afraid not to be shoved or pulled. I was very confident of my finishing quality and finally I have done just that. Even though I run the track, I like cross country because this is the competition which has introduced me to the public."

The junior men’s race saw Alamirew Yenew continue his dominant performance this season leading his club Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to a clean sweep of the medals in the junior men’s race.

It became clear that a runner from the club would end up the winner of the race when Yenew led club mates Tolosa Gedefu, Brhanu Diro and Worku Atnafu for the first three laps in a one-club dominant race. At the beginning of the final lap, the front three effortlessly moved ahead of challengers from the other clubs. In a tight-content, Yenew edged Gedefu by just two seconds (23:07 to 23:09) with Diro third in 23:13.

“It was my third participation in Addis Ababa cross country, but my first win,” said Yenew who also mentioned about his interest not to run in this race. “I was not interested to run in this race, but my club forced me to compete. I am glad to earn the victory for my club. My focus is more on the 10 km road race. I will be competing in the near future in the Netherlands.”

An interesting sight in this race was a young Abebe Sihine, younger brother of two-time Olympic and three-time world 10,000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine, finishing 10th running for the Walya sport club.

Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw


6 km junior women
1. Emebet Anteneh (Defence) 19:54
2.  Azmera Gebru (EEPCO) 19:56
3. Genet Yalew (Defence) 19:59

8 km senior women
1. Hiwot Ayalew (Commercial Bank of Ethiopia) 26:56
2. Makda Haroun (Federal Prisons) 27:09
3. Tsega Gelaw (Defence) 27:23

8 km junior men
1. Yenew Alamrew (Commercial Bank of Ethiopia) 23:07
2.  Tolosa Gedefu (Commercial Bank of Ethiopia) 23:09
3.  Brhanu Diro (Commercial Bank of Ethiopia) 23:13

12 km senior men
1. Lelisa Desisa (Federal Police) 34:43
2.  Workneh Tesfu (Federal Police) 34:52
3.  Abdisa Sori (Federal Police) 34:53