2008-09-24 / Entertainment

Ethiopian Men Finish 1-2-3 In Philly Distance Run

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Yirefu Birhanu won the Philadelphia Distance Run on Sunday as Ethiopian men finished 1-2-3 in the halfmarathon.

Liliya Shobukhova, of Russia, won the women's race, edging out six-time winner Catherine Ndereba, of Kenya.

An estimated 15,800 runners took part in the 13.1-mile race, held in good conditions, with temperatures in the 50s and a light wind.

Birhanu broke away from the pack with about a half-mile remaining to go, finishing in one hour, one minute, 22 seconds. He was trailed by countrymen Terefu Zwedie (1:01.23) and Girma Tola (1:01.26). The sweep by the Ethiopian men broke Kenya's traditional hold on the top spot; McDonard Ondara was the top Kenyan finisher, placing fourth in 1:01.32.

"I didn't expect to win,'' said Birhanu, who had not raced since he competed in the Boston Marathon, where he was forced to drop out due to stomach problems.

In the women's race, Shobukhova (1:10.21) earned first place over Kenya's Catherine Ndereba, a six-time winner, by a mere 10 seconds.

The Russian started to make her move at the 10-mile mark and was able to keep a slim lead to the finish line near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"At about 10 miles, the Kenyan girls tried to push the pace,'' Shobukhova said through a translator. "But I was able to break away from the group.''

Shobukhova competed in last month's Olympic Games in Beijing, finishing sixth in the 5,000.

Ndereba said she was still feeling the effects from Beijing, where she finished second in the women's marathon.

"My legs were still a little tired from Beijing,'' said Ndereba, who won the Philadelphia Distance Run five straight times between 1998 and 2002. "I'm still getting over it.''

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