Monday, February 17, 2014, 07:53
Ethiopian runners reclaim titles
By Timothy Chui in Hong Kong

Ethiopian runners reclaim titles
A runner wearing Rilakkuma — or Relax Bear — costume participates with thousands of other runners in the annual Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on Sunday. (Edmond Tang / China Daily )
Ethiopian runners reclaimed the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon championship — as they saw off their Kenyan competitors by seconds.

Gemeda Feyera finished in 2:15:05 followed close behind by compatriot Abdisa Bedada Sori, who finished six seconds behind. Kenya’s closest, Elisha Kiprop Barno, rounded out the trifecta, seven seconds after Feyera’s finish.

Kenya’s Juluis Maisei was last year’s defending men’s champion, following Ethiopian Degere Abera’s  record-setting 2:11:27 performance in 2012 which ended a three-year winning streak by Kenyan runners.

“I’m thrilled for I only started running marathons four years ago and this is the biggest win of my career,” Feyera said after securing the $65,000 championship purse.

Abdisa was close on Feyera’s heels, but his hamstrings failed him in the final stretch, he told reporters. Both Feyera and Abdisa hail from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian women topped their category, with Rehima Kedir dashing defending champion Misiker Demissie’s hopes for a third consecutive championship with a time of 2:34:53. Demissie finished 13 seconds behind Kedir while Gemechu Debellu rounded out third, 25 seconds behind the leader.

The men’s half marathon went to 21-year-old mainland student Wang Kun, who passed Japan’s Kawarai Tsukasa with a time of 1:09:08 to Tsukasa’s 1:09:26, with third-place to Australian Klarie McIntyre, more than two minutes behind.

The women’s half marathon was won by Hong Kong-based Australian Jane Richards, who finished in 1:26:05, followed by Karen Hung Shee-yeung and Sarah Cheung Hoi-wah, who were 20 seconds and 54 seconds behind Richards, respectively.

Australia’s Clinton Mckevicius clinched the men’s 10 km win on the first anniversary of his mother’s passing with a time of 32:22, while the women’s 10 km was won by Yiu Kit-ching with a time of 36:14.

Only two of six entries in the revived 10 km wheelchair race managed to finish on Sunday, with former fencer Fung Ying-kei completing the course in 33 minutes.

Conditions were slightly warmer compared with the week before and remained dry. The city’s biggest outdoor sports event saw more than its share of exhausted runners collapsing at the finishing line.

Thirty participants were sent to hospitals, down from 37 last year, while one runner suffered from dehydration and 854 others experiencing minor injuries.

But the weather conditions did not hamper costumed runners and the event was capped with a finish line marriage proposal. Trina Lam Chui-han, 32, tearfully accepted a marriage proposal from her running coach 36-year-old Billy Chiu Sin-hang.

More than 73,201 runners from more than 40 nations registered, but more than 8,000 are believed to have abstained due to cold and windy weather. The 10 km event was the most popular with 36,024 entries, followed by 22,798 for the half marathon and 14,379 for the full marathon.