Megertu Alemu trimmed one second from the course record at the Acea Rome Marathon, winning the IAAF Silver Label road race in 2:22:52 to lead an Ethiopian sweep of the podium. Compatriot Tebalu Zawude won the men’s title in 2:08:37 in a race where Ethiopian men filled the top five places.
With rain falling for the first half of the race, Alemu and Muluhabt Tsega took the early lead, going through 10 kilometers in 33:45 and half way in 1:11:11. They had a three-minute margin over the chasing group of Egigayehu Mengistu, Alemi Tsegaye, Chaltu Negesse and Mestawet Tadesse.
Megertu finally pulled away from Mulumbet and went on to win in a five-minute PB of 2:22:52, briefly holding the Italian all-comers’ record before Vivian Kiplagat clocked 2:22:25 in Milan a few minutes later. Mulumbet finished second in 2:26:41 and Chaltu third in 2:30:45.
In the men’s race, 14 athletes stayed together until the15 kilometers mark then the group started to splinter a bit as they reached half way. With 10 kilometers remaining, five Ethiopian men – Tebelu, Musa Babo, Birhanu Teshome, Yihunilign Adane and Tesfa Tiruneh – remained in contention.
Tebalu pulled away from the rest of the field at 36 kilometers and went on to win by 40 seconds, crossing the finish line in 2:08:37 ahead of Workneh (2:09:17), Adane (2:09:53) and Ido (2:09:55).
More than 10,000 runners participated in the event, which started and finished at Rome’s Coliseum. Nearly 70 percent were Italians, organizers said, with the 3,000 foreign runners representing 88 countries and regions.
Ethiopia’s domination of the race, especially in the women’s division, is not new. Megertu who set a new course record became the sixth consecutive Ethiopian winner and the ninth in 11 years. Tebelu meanwhile, was the sixth Ethiopian man to win the race in the last decade.