Ethiopian runners Kebebe and Gudeta dominate at Xiamen Marathon with impressive victories


Ethiopian athletes Asefa Boki Kebebe and Bekelech Gudeta triumphed at the prestigious C&D Xiamen Marathon on Sunday, claiming top spots in a race that attracted a global field.

Kebebe clinched the men’s title with a time of 2:06:46, while Gudeta secured the women’s crown in 2:22:54, both marking significant victories at the World Athletics Platinum Label road race.

Kebebe, in a stunning upset, outpaced a field featuring three sub-2:05 runners, including Kenya’s Felix Kirwa. The race reached a critical point in the final seven kilometers when Kebebe made his decisive move, narrowly missing the course record by 27 seconds.

The early stages saw a pack of over ten runners, but by the 25km mark, the group had dwindled to five. Kebebe, alongside Kirwa and others, maintained a strong pace, with significant withdrawals including defending champion Philimon Kiptoo Kipchumba and the fastest entrant, Kibiwott Kandie.

The marathon’s climax saw Kebebe demonstrating tactical brilliance. He bided his time behind Kirwa before unleashing a powerful surge in the final kilometer, securing his third marathon title in China.

Kirwa finished a close second in 2:06:52, and Moroccan record-holder Othmane El Goumri rounded off the podium in 2:07:18.

On the women’s side, Gudeta’s victory was marked by a more comfortable margin. Leading a pack with fellow Ethiopians Aberu Ayana Mulisa and Ftaw Zeray, Gudeta established her dominance early on.

By the halfway point, she had distanced herself from her compatriots, showcasing her formidable pacing and endurance.

Her winning time of 2:22:54 not only secured her triumph but also improved her personal best, set two years prior in Prague.

Gudeta’s nearest competitor, Morocco’s Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi, finished in 2:24:12, also setting a personal best. China’s Zhang Deshun claimed the third spot in 2:26:53, demonstrating the international depth of the field.

The Xiamen Marathon, renowned for its competitive field and challenging course, witnessed Ethiopian dominance this year.

Kebebe and Gudeta’s victories are not just personal achievements but also a testament to Ethiopia’s enduring legacy in long-distance running.

Their performances in Xiamen will be remembered as highlights in their burgeoning careers, setting the stage for future successes on the global marathon circuit.

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