Seasoned Ethiopian road runners Habtamu Asefa Wakeyo and Keneni Germame Korme jet in today ahead of this weekend’s Lotto Baringo Half Marathon in Kabarnet, the event’s organisers have confirmed.
Habtamu, who finished at 16th place in the 2012 edition of IAAF World Half Marathon in Bulgaria and Keneni will spice up the 21km event whose patron is former World Marathon record holder and five-time world cross country champion Paul Tergat.
In exchange, Baringo Half Marathon organisers will unveil two Kenyan runners at the Saturday event to compete at the Great Ethiopian Run - Africa’s biggest road race with over 35,000 runners slated for November 26.
“We are excited to once again have our neighbours and friendly rivals from Ethiopia travelling to Baringo for the race as this is part of the exchange programme that we hope will continue improving the standards of distance running in Kenya,” Lotto Baringo Half Marathon founder and patron Paul Tergat said yesterday.
He added: “Going by their performances, Habtamu and Keneni will indeed give our local runners some good workout on Saturday.”
It’s worth noting Tergat is the founder of the Lotto Baringo Half Marathon while his running days arch-rival Haile Gebrselassie started the Great Ethiopian Run.
The duo have since taken up sports administration in their respective countries with Gebrselassie being elected Ethiopian Athletics Federation president last year and his counterpart Tergat being voted the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) boss two months ago.
The Ethiopian running pedigree is never in doubt - with Habtamu having clocked a personal best of 28 minutes in the 10km road race in 2013 and 61:00 in the half marathon in France in the same year.
In full marathon, Habtamu clocked 2:08:28 for ninth-place finish at the 2013 Dubai Marathon and has been a regular podium finisher in Ethiopian road races at altitude.
Keneni’s personal best time in the half marathon is 68:00, which she clocked in India this year. She has a PB of 36:00 in the 10km race clocked at last year’s Great Ethiopian Run where she finished fourth.
Keneni also finished fourth in last year’s 21km race at the Uganda Marathon. [Dennis Okeyo]