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Waving flags, ear-piercing ululations and other celebratory expressions have greeted the Ethiopian winners of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon these past several years as their supporters have come out en masse for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Ethiopian women have won the past seven editions of the Ottawa Marathon, while their male compatriots have built up a four-year streak. That dominance could well continue at this year’s race on 28 May.
“There are so many things I like about Canada but simply the city of Ottawa is so beautiful with amazing people,” says defending champion Koren Jelela. “What I remember most about Ottawa last year is that the weather was so heavy – it was windy and cloudy – and we Ethiopians finished 1-2-3 in the women’s race.
“But the support of Ethiopians in the crowd, I remember, made me so happy and proud that we all have got these results and made those other people happy. I was so sure all the hard work was worth it.”
The men’s race will feature several Ethiopian stars including Seboka Tola Dibaba marking his second visit to Canada in seven months after finishing second at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October. With a personal best of 2:06:17 from the 2012 Dubai Marathon, he will be one to watch. He is joined by compatriot Sisay Jisa, who has a PB of 2:06:27.