Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dam to Dam: Belainesh Gebre wins 3rd title

Belainesh Gebre, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., finished first in the women's class of the 2013 Dam to Dam 20K Race in a time of 1:08:41 on Saturday morning. / David Purdy/The Register
Every time Belainesh Gebre comes to Des Moines, she wins.

The Ethiopian from Flagstaff, Ariz., claimed her third Dam to Dam 20-kilometer title Saturday in her third try. Gebre ran the second-fastest time ever, 1 hour, 8 minutes, 41 seconds, in the race's 34-year women's history.

"This is my favorite place," the 25-year-old Gebre said. "I'm happy because it's my third time."
Gebre, who also captured the Hy-Vee Road Races Half Marathon title in April, trails only five-time champion Bonnie Sons in the 20k event. Gebre, Karen Clark and Janice Ettle all own three titles. Gebre's other crowns came in 2008 and 2009.
Daniel Kipkoech also now knows the feeling of winning on the streets of Des Moines. The Kenyan living in Colorado Springs, Colo., pulled away in the final four miles to win his Dam to Dam debut in 1:00:56. His time is the 10th fastest in Dam to Dam history.

"I'm so glad to win in this beautiful weather," Kipkoech, 26, said. "I focused on this race."

Gebre and Kipkoech took advantage of cool 57-degree temperatures at the start. The conditions would have been superb expect for a south wind that was in their faces for most of the race.

The wind played a factor in the men's race. Kipkoech was in a pack that included fellow Kenyan Shadrack Kiyai, Yonas Mebrahtu of Eritrea and American Ben Sathre. Kipkoech said he took the lead because none of his rivals would.

"I had to do all the work," Kipkoech said. "When they got in front, they didn't want to push the pace. I had to. It (wind) was affecting me a lot."

Kipkoech took command by running a 4:42 ninth mile. He ran 4:58, 4:58 and 4:57 over his final three miles. He defeated Kiyai by 36 seconds. Jason Flogel was the top Iowan in 1:05:46.

Gebre never looked back after taking the lead by the halfway point. Kelly Brinkman of Bloomington, Minn., was 1:21 behind in second. The top female Iowa resident was third-place Pasca Cheruiyot of Fort Dodge in 1:10:49.

Gebre wants to try for a fourth Dam to Dam title. Diane Nukuri-Johnson's 1:07:52 record time set a year ago is in her sights.

"Maybe I try to run 66 (minutes)," Gebre said. "Next goal."