In a busy spring weekend of action on the roads around the world, double Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba continued her comeback in Carlsbad and little-known Atsedu Tsegay became the fourth-fastest half-marathoner in history in Prague.
Dibaba, the 26-year-old Ethiopian, who reigns as Olympic champion at both 5000 meters and 10,000 meters, won the Carlsbad 5000 in 15:01 on a windy day in southern California, easily running away from runner-up Werknesh Kidane (15:13), also of Ethiopia. It was Dibaba’s third victory in three races this year, after missing more than a year of competition due to a stress fracture in her right shin.
“I don’t have any more bad [physical] feelings,” she told Bert Rosenthal, who was reporting for the race organizers. “I knew all along I would come back.”
The men’s race was closer but also an Ethiopian one-two finish, with 2011 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist Dejen Gebremeskel defending his title over 17-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet, 13:11 to 13:14, and Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (also 13:14) and Tariku Bekele (13:16) in hot pursuit.
Finishing sixth, Ireland’s Alistair Cragg ran 13:26 to break the national and European records for the distance. Cragg lives in the United States and trains with the Mammoth Track Club.
Dibaba and Gebremeskel should both be familiar to New York running enthusiasts: Dibaba is a three-time winner at 5000 meters at the adidas Grand Prix, held on Randall’s Island, while Gebremeskel won the men’s 5000 meters there last year in a thrilling finish over Bernard Lagat.
At the Hervis Prague Half-Marathon, Ethiopia’s Tsegay, just 20 years old, won in 58:47, smashing the course record by almost a minute despite cold and windy conditions. “In my next race, I would like to try and break the world record [of 58:23],” he told the IAAF’s Pat Butcher.
Also breaking a course record was Allan Kiprono of Kenya, who won the 40th running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in Washington, DC, in a course-record 45:15. His countrywoman, Julliah Tinega, easily defended her title in the women’s race in 54:02.
Notching a personal best in the Vattenfall Berlin Half-Marathon was Denis Koech, with a time of 59:22. A training partner of 2011 ING New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai, Koech prevailed over Wilson Kiprop, the reigning IAAF World Half Marathon champion, in a sprint finish. “He’s given me the experience of running and how to attack,” said Koech of the advice he has received from Mutai, who is preparing to defend his Boston Marathon title on April 16.
In the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K in Charleston, SC, American Janet Cherobon-Bawcom continued her success on the roads with a victory in 33:01. Cherobon-Bawcom, who finished fifth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January and has won four U.S. road titles since Labor Day, was fifth in the NYC Half last month. Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia won the men’s race in Charleston in 29:37.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg