Monday, October 22, 2012

Ethiopians come long way, then go another 26.2 miles to win Atlantic City Marathon

(Oct 22, 2012, (ATLANTIC CITY))--Four years ago, Berhanu Mekonen might not have chosen the Atlantic City Marathon for his first marathon since moving to the United States from Ethiopia. But the once-struggling event is again among the nation's premier races.

Mekonen won the 54th Atlantic City Marathon and fellow Ethiopian Gedese Edeto was the women's champion Sunday. The event, which also included a half-marathon Sunday and a 10K (6.2 miles), 5K and kids 1-mile run Saturday, drew about 4,000 entrants.

The Ethiopian contingent, which included several runners besides Mekonen and Edeto, was evidence of the resurgence of the nation's third-longest-running marathon, which was taken over in 2009 by the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center in Margate.

"Our elite group is growing," director of race services Marg Mancuso said. "We had maybe four (elite runners) the first year, 10 the second year. We have about between 35 and 50 elite runners here. "This is becoming a place to go." Mekonen moved to Washington, D.C., two weeks ago to work with his coach, Ayela Belete.

He won in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 15 seconds Sunday despite having run on boards for the first time last week. He finished more than a minute ahead of second-place Dereje Woldegiyorgis, another Ethiopian who now lives in New York.  Read more from Press of Atlantic City »

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