Ethiopians can run.
This is something that's essentially become common knowledge to any fan of marathon racing, but it was once again proven on Sunday during the L.A. Marathon.
Amane Gobena of Ethiopia was the resounding winner in the women's race and narrowly beat out fellow countryman Gebo Burka in the gender challenge thanks to the 17-minute, 41-second head start given to the women, according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
Winning the gender challenge assured her a prize of $50,000 on top of the $25,000 she won for claiming the women's race.
As for what she's planning to do with her earnings, Gobena made her intentions very clear through a translator, per Klein:
"I'm building a house," Gobena said, "and definitely that house will be paid off."
The win was a monumental one for Ethiopia, but it certainly wasn't the first time that the country has swept the podium. Over the nearly three decades that the race has been held, Ethiopia has taken both top prizes twice, with the other time being in 2011.
Here is a look at the results from the men's and women's races after the marathon concluded on Sunday afternoon:
|2014 L.A. Marathon Results (Men's)|
|2014 L.A. Marathon Results (Women's)|
Gobena was the star, but Burka came away with $25,000 of his own in a race that lasted 26.2 miles.
In fact, the two racers were closer than many might have known heading into the marathon. Keith Lair of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group reports that the two are related:
While Burka took the top prize, he wasn't the only star on the men's side. Kenyan Lani Rutto finished second with a time of 2:10:48, becoming the only other racer this year to come in at under 2:11.
While defending champion Erick Mose finished with a time of 2:12:56, he had to settle for a third-place finish. The Kenyan finished well short of his own personal best of 2:09:44 from last season.
Mose's agent Derek Froude told Klein that his client had much higher expectations heading into the marathon:
He's relatively young and clearly on an improving curve. I could see him running 2:06 or 2:07 for the marathon. If he does that, he will move substantially up in the Kenyan rankings and make a good living for himself. At that point he would be ready to contend in any marathon in the world. He wouldn't be the fastest, but he would be within a couple minutes, which means on any given day anything can happen.
Following the race, Mose spoke about his performance, as noted by Lee Barnathan of The Associated Press (h/t Houston Chronicle):
"I was good but I had a big problem reaching 15 miles," Mose said. "I had a big problem with my back running downhill. A lot of pain, so I lost my pace with the other guys."
With this year's marathon coming to an end, Mose could yet again be a contender to watch in the 2015 race, which will be the 30th annual running.
Along with Mose, Gobena will have another shot to prove that she's a consistent force in the sport. After finishing in second in 2009 and winning this year's competition, the Ethiopian has a chance to start paying off another house.
But with a year leading up to the next L.A. Marathon, more contenders will certainly emerge over that time to challenge the Ethiopians for their crown.
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