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A week after an astonishing Great Ethiopian Run victory, Abebech Afework took the Hereenberg –Holland 16th edition 15km road race crown. Compatriot Hailu Mekonen settled for the men’s runner-up spot.
With well experienced Kenyan Edna Kiplagat and Netherland’s Hilda Kibet no one paid attention to the newly emerging Ethiopian athlete until the final five Km where she happened to be between the two veterans and still took control of the pace. Staying shoulder to shoulder and with tension building among them to take the initiative, the 21 year old Abebech pressed the pedal to leave behind her surprised contenders. Dashing the final stretch, as best as she can, Abebech crossed the finishing line in 49:19 with Kiplagat coming home 23 seconds later, followed by home girl Kibet in 49:48.
“What is amazing about Abebech is her strong will to win despite the presence of veterans” BBC commented.
In the men’s race Ethiopian Hailu Mekonen played with fire, sandwiched between to Kenyans. With world marathon champion Abel Kirui in the line up, it was taken for granted to be an all Kenyan affair. However Hailu’s wise timing and determination helped him to finish runner up behind Utrecht marathon champion Philip Langat who clocked 42:31. Hailu crossed the finishing line in 42:55 followed by John Mwangangi in 43:13. The day’s hot favorite Abel Kirui finished a poor eighth.