Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ethiopians sweep 10-mile race, locals take 5K titles

NEWBURYPORT — Six natives of Ethiopia achieved their goal last evening of running fast 10-mile road races in Newburyport, collecting prize money, and returning to their respective residences in New York City.
The Ethiopian sweep marked the first time in three years an American fell short of a Provident Bank Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile Road Race men’s title. A New Hampshire resident won the men’s race in each of the previous two races. That trend came to an end in resounding fashion, as African-born distance runners reasserted their dominance in a race that offers $4,300 in prize money. From 2005 to 2007, Ethiopia native Alene Reta won three consecutive Yankee Homecoming 10-mile titles. However, from 2008 to 2012, Americans won the title in four of the five years.

Native Ethiopians swept the top three places last night in both the men’s and women’s races. Aschalaw Mekete, now of New York City, collected the top prize — $500 — for winning the men’s 10-mile race in 49:07, the fastest winning time since 2005. His countrymen Mengistu Nebsi (49:09) and Tariku Bokan (49:12) finished within five seconds of him. The next finisher, Amos Sang, of Indian Orchard, finished over a minute later in 50:13.
The three Ethiopians combined to take $950 back to New York City. None of the three spoke English.
On the women’s side, Ethiopia natives Meseret Kitata (56:22), Aimaz Fekada (56:29) and Hirut Beyene (57:47) finished in succession, rounding out the top three places. All three women spoke in their native tongue while turning down interview requests.
The Yankee Homecoming 5K, which has grown in popularity to the point that it now trumps the 5K in terms of participation numbers, provided more of a local feel as both the men’s and women’s champions have local ties. Haverhill native and Stonehill College alumnus Pat Fullerton cruised to victory in the men’s race, crossing in 15:21. Fullerton, a Bradford resident, is the manager of the Greater Boston Running Company on Water Street. Pentucket alumna Alanna Poretta won the women’s race in 18:25. The 21-year-old is a member of the Boston College cross-country and track teams.
The Yankee Homecoming races drew similar numbers to last year with 3,434 combined entrants. The 5K was slightly less popular than last year, with 1,839 finishers compared to 1,872 a year ago. The 10-mile race had 1,363 finishers compared to 1,397 last year.