Netsanet Gudeta wins the Valencia, Spain, Half Marathon

Valencia, Spain (IAAF) –World cross-country bronze medallist Netsanet Gudeta was something of a surprising winner of the women’s race as she wasn’t the fastest in the field, but the 24-year-old showed impressive form to knock more than a minute from her PB and lead an Ethiopian 1-2-3.

The early pace was frantic, as the top women were timed at 15:32 for the first 5km. The rhythm settled down slightly and they passed through the 10km point in 31:32; by then the group was compounded by the Ethiopian trio of Gudeta, pre-race favourite Worknesh Debele and Genet Yalew Kassahun plus Kenya’s Rose Chelimo.

Having passed 15km in 47:27, Gudeta built a significant lead during the final quarter of the race and with 5km to go it became clear that she would be the eventual victor.

She romped home in 1:07:30 to break Emily’s Chebet course record of 68:01 set last year, a time also bettered by runner-up Debele, who clocked 1:07:51. Kassahun finished third in 1:08:12.

The course record wasn’t the only bit of history that Gudeta made. She became the first Ethiopian athlete to win in Valencia since it moved from a 20km to a half marathon in 2006.

A record figure of 10,884 athletes finished the event which took in Valencia’s historic city centre and the port area by the Mediterranean.

netsanet-gudetaNetsanet Gudeta (born 12 February 1991) is an Oromian long-distance runner who competes in road running and cross country running events. She was the bronze medalist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2015. She shared in the team title at that competition and also won team silver at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 2014. Her best for the half marathon is 68:46 minutes.

Netsanet grew up in Bekoji, Oromia region– an area well known for producing top athletes, including Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulu and Genzebe Dibaba. She began training with Aberu Kebede and Aselefech Mergia, among others. She made her debut abroad at the 2013 Prague Grand Prix in the Czech Republic, finishing in tenth place. The Great Ethiopian Run brought her name to prominence nationally as she saw off a challenge over the 10K distance from Atsede Baysa, the 2012 Chicago Marathon winner. She closed the year with a runner-up finish at the São Silvestre Road Race in Brazil, setting a 15K best of 52:08 minutes.

Her opening race of 2014 was March’s Roma-Ostia Half Marathon and in her debut over the distance she finished in third place with a time of 68:53 minutes. She was chosen to represent her country at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships later that month and was the leading Ethiopian in a Kenya-dominated race. Her finishing time of 68:46 minutes was a new personal best and brought her sixth place, as well as a team silver medal. She continued on the international road circuit and was sixth at the World 10K Bangalore and tenth at the Luanda Half Marathon. She returned to the Great Ethiopian Run in November but was edged out of the title by Wude Ayalew. At the São Silvestre Road Race on New Year’s Eve, she was again runner-up.

Netsanet turned to cross country at the beginning of 2015 and her fourth place finish at the Jan Meda International Cross Country gained her another international selection. She adapted well to the grass course of the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and won her first individual medal by finishing third behind Ethiopian teammate Senbere Teferi. The pair led Ethiopia to the senio women’s team title at the competition.

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