Showdown Looms Between Kenyan and Ethiopian Runners at Freihofer's Run for Women June 5th in Albany, NY

09 Paula Wiltse

ALBANY, NY (May 18, 2010) — If there's one thing the Freihofer's Run for Women guarantees every year, it's that you can expect an incredible showing from the African field.

African women have, in fact, placed first or second in four of the five years since the race went to an international format in 2005. In addition, Morroccan Asmae Leghzaou lays claim to the course record (15:18, 2005), and the current defending champion is Ethiopian Teyba Erkesso, the 2010 Boston Marathon champion.

Now, the 32nd edition of the Freihofer's Run announces perhaps the deepest African field ever, stacked with notables from powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia.

  • Emily Chebet, 24, of Kenya, is fresh off her stunning win at the World Cross-Country Championships last month. Her win surprised many as she came from back in the pack to beat two of the most formidable runners in the world, Linet Masai and Meselech Melkamu. Chebet, a second place finisher at last weekend's Bay to Breakers 12K, will surely have her sights set on Teyba Erkesso.
  • Ethiopian Dire Tune, 24, is another formidable competitor. In 2008, the Olympian won the Houston Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the RAK Half Marathon, and competed in the Beijing Olympics marathon, placing 15th. Last year, Tune placed 2nd at the Boston Marathon and recently finished 3rd at the Zayed International Half Marathon. Tune just barely missed the podium at the 2007 Freihofer's Run for Women, coming in 4th.
  • Mamitu Daska, 26, of Ethiopia, placed 3rd at the 2010 Bay to Breakers 12K, 2nd at the 2010 Lilac Bloomsday 12K and 8th at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships. She was also the runner-up at the 2009 Freihofer's Run for Women, finishing just behind Erkesso. Last year she hit the tape first at both the Bolder Boulder 10K and the Falmouth Road Race.
  • Amane Gobena, 27, of Ethiopia, is well known at Freihofer's. She finished just seconds behind Benita Willis at the 2008 Freihofer's Run for Women and is now back looking for the win. So far this year, Gobena has won the Osaka Marathon and Seoul International Marathon. She also placed 5th at the Zayed Half Marathon in January.

"This is not only a very deep African group, but also one where they are all running very well at the moment," maintained Elite Athlete Recruiter John Tope.

Rounding out the ultra competitive African field are:

  • Nukuri Johnson, 25, of Burundi. Johnson competed in the 5K at the 2000 Olympics Games and is also a two-time All American. She placed 7th at the 2010 Carsbad 5K.
  • Belainesh Zemedkun, 22, is another Ethiopian who's gaining more and more recognition with every race she enters. Zemedkun's victories this year include the Bermuda Half Marathon and the Azalea Trails 10K. She also placed 2nd at the Crescent City 10K and 8th at the World's Best 10K.
  • Jelliah Tinega, 24, of Kenya placed 4th at the 2010 Bay to Breakers 12K, 2nd at the 2010 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5th at the 2010 Lilac Bloomsday 12K. Her personal best for the 5K is 15:25, only seven seconds behind Leghzaou's course record.

Event Director George Regan sees the African field shaping up as one for the ages.

"It's a great match up between two of the powerhouses in the world of distance running, Ethiopia and Kenya," he said. "When you have names like Chebet, Erkesso, Daska, Gobena and Tune in your line-up, you know you're going to see something incredible happen. The headline for this story should be 'Speeding Legalized in Albany on June 5th, 2010.' These athletes are going to burn up Madison Avenue."

A 30-minute Freihofer's Run for Women TV special will air Saturday, June 5th at 10:30 p.m. on FOX23. This year's race will once again include the USA 10K Open and Junior Race Walk Championships featuring many of the nation's top race walkers.

To register for the Freihofer's Run for Women, or for more information about the 22nd annual Freihofer's Community Walk, 23rd annual Freihofer's Kids' Run and 8th annual CapitalCare Health & Fitness Expo, visit freihofersrun.com. From the home page, you can also link the event's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

Event sponsors include the Charles Freihofer Baking Company, Price Chopper Supermarkets, The City of Albany, FOX23, the Times Union, WGNA, host hotel 74 State, CSC, Subway, and Dale Miller Restaurant.

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Freihofer's, a leading baker of wholesome products, is committed to fostering the growth and recognition of women in sports and inspiring all generations of women to experience the benefits of exercise and good nutrition. Freihofer's continues to set the pace by sponsoring the annual Freihofer's Run for Women 5K. Now in its 32nd year, the event, which is home to the Master's World & U.S. All-Comers record, features thousands of women of all ages and abilities from Olympians to recreational joggers, who challenge themselves on the picturesque 3.1-mile course. For more information, visit http://www.freihofers.com.

Tinega photo credit: MarathonFoto

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