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Dereje Debele Tulu breaks course record in Duesseldorf

Tulu Dereje at the 2013 Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon Dusseldorf, Germany
Tulu Dereje at the 2013 Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon Dusseldorf, Germany

Ethiopians Dereje Debele Tulu and Melkam Gizaw took the 11th edition of the METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf on Sunday.

In ideal weather conditions 26 year-old Dereje Debele Tulu broke the course record with 2:07:48. It was the first sub 2:08 time in Duesseldorf. Second placed Pius Ondoro clocked 2:08:17 while Duncan Koech (both Kenya) took third with 2:09:10.

For the first time there were five runners who achieved sub 2:10 times in Duesseldorf. Ethiopians Shengo Kebede (2:09:53) and Asmare Workneh (2:09:56) took fourth and fifth places.

Pre-race favourite Melkam Gizaw was the women’s winner with a personal best of 2:26:24. It was the second fastest women’s performance in the history of the race.

The course record stands at 2:25:49. Kenyan debutant Rebecca Chesire ran a fine 2:27:52 for second place. Well behind Agnieszka Ciolek-Mierzejewska ( Poland) was third with 2:33:36.

Adding all events 14,000 runners entered the METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf. Around 4,250 of them were marathon runners. The METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf is an IAAF Bronze Label Race.

Men’s Race: Dereje Debele Tulu defeats Pius Ondoro

After split times of 64:18 at half way and 1:16:24 for 25 k a course record (2:08:27) did not look likely. The leading group ran a couple of kilometres in around 3:10 at that stage of the race. And the runner entered with the fastest PB, Paul Biwott (Kenya/2:06:54), had already lost contact to the first group. He later dropped out.

But Dereje Debele Tulu stepped in and surged ahead around the 30 k mark ( 1:31:35). The leading group was stretched and it took not long before the Ethiopian was on his own.

However the race for victory was not over yet. Kenya’s Pius Ondoro chose a more conservative approach. Instead of increasing the pace instantly he gradually closed a gap of around 30 metres. It was at 37 k when he caught Dereje Debele Tulu and passed him. The Ethiopian had looked back before, so he saw the danger coming. “At that moment I thought I would win it. But then I was surprised when the Ethiopian was able to go with me and then overtook me again,” said Pius Ondoro. Dereje Debele Tulu did not wait long with a second surge. This time, when he went ahead again at 38 k, it was game over.

“Originally it was my aim to run 2:07. But I am happy with the victory and the personal best,“ said Dereje Debele Tulu, who had come to Duesseldorf with a PB of 2:09:08. He ran this time in Vienna in 2009. “Dereje lost two years because of injuries and illnesses.

I knew that he trained well, but I did not expect him to run that fast today,“ said Gabriele Nicola, who is the head coach of the Gianni Demadonna management group.

“But I only go to Addis Ababa occasionally. The coaches who work with Dereje are Gemedu Dedefo and Gebeyehu Berihun. They told me that he is a very serious guy who never misses a training session,” said Gabriele Nicola, who is the coach of Mary Keitany in Kenya.

Women’s Race: Melkam Gizaw, a training partner of Tiki Gelana

The women’s winner comes from Addis Ababa as well. 22 year-old Melkam Gizaw, who was third in the METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf a year ago and had a personal best of 2:26:52, passed half way in 1:13:11.

She was running together with debutant Rebecca Chesire. The Kenyan held on well and it was not before 36 k that she lost contact to Melkam Gizaw. But the Ethiopian was not concerned.

“I was always confident. When she ran with me until 36 k I was never afraid of not winning,” said Melkam Gizaw, whose role model is double Olympic 10,000 m champion Derartu Tulu (1992 and 2000), who also won the London and New York marathons.

“Originally I hoped to run 2:24 today. But I got a hamstring problem in the final five kilometres. So I could not run that fast any more,” said Melkam Gizaw, who belongs to the training group of coach Getane Tessema. Among her training partners are some of the most famous names in road running: Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana, Frankfurt Marathon winner Meselech Melkamu and the half marathon world champion Meseret Hailu.

“To be able to train in such a strong group really helps me. It motivates me and I learn a lot,” said Melkam Gizaw, who joined the group four years ago. Within the next two years she hopes to run 2:20.

(Photo credit: Victah Sailer /

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