ABADI Hadis of Ethiopia and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya made sporting history last night after winning their respective races in the first-ever Bahrain Night Half Marathon, one of the richest events of its kind in the world.
Hadis clinched the men’s event in dramatic fashion, passing countryman Jemal Yimer Mekonnen in only the final metres of the 21.1-kilometre course. Mekonnen had a heartbreaking finish having lost out on the victory after slowing down near the end, thinking he had won. He raised his arms in victory but at the same time Hadis made his move to the front, and by the time Mekonnen realised his mistake, Hadis had cleared the line.
It was a totally different scenario at the finish of the women’s race, with Kosgei taking first place following a dominant final sprint. She ran all alone as she neared the finish at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa, which is also where the massive field of 800 participants started the event. Kosgei clocked a new World leading time to add to her win, and she also was nearly a minute ahead of her closest challenger.
Both victors took home a staggering first prize of $100,000 each with their victories.
The Bahrain Night Half-Marathon was held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad.
Supreme Council for Youth and Sports first deputy chairman, Bahrain Athletics Association president and Bahrain Mixed Martial Arts Federation honorary president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa attended the event. He awarded the winners during the prize presentation.
Hadis won the men’s race in a total time of 59 minutes 42 seconds. His mark was well beyond his personal best of 58:44 which he set last year, but it was still enough to claim the top step on the podium following a thrilling run.
Hadis was amongst the group of leaders from the early stages, and at the midway point at the roundabout at Al Jazayer Beach, he was running alongside fellow-Ethiopian Fikadu Haftu.
The leaders continued to run in a pack of eight as they made their way down Gulf of Bahrain Avenue and past Bahrain International Circuit. But heading into the final straight towards Sofitel, Mekonnen took over in front with Hadis and Kenya’s Bernard Ngeno challenging him.
Over the final metres, it was a two-horse sprint between Mekonnen and Hadis, who eventually make the crucial pass at the very end to steal the win from his rival.
Mekonnen was the runner-up in 59:45, while Ngeno came third in 59:47. Fikadu Haftu of Ethipia was fourth in 59:49, while Dawit Fikadu of Bahrain came fifth in 61:44.
On the distaff, Kosgei had a superb second half of the race after running amongst a leading group of four for much of the distance.
Towards the end, she was engaged in a battle with fellow-Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and pre-race favourite Netsanet Gudeta, who is the women’s reigning World champion in the half marathon.
After passing the midway point of the race, Gudeta went to the front and appeared headed towards a strong finish. But Kosgei and Chepngetich upped the pace and eventually built a healthy gap in front. Kosgei then separated herself from Chepngetich and ran solo as she neared the finish line.
Kosgei won in a total race time of one hour five minutes and 28 seconds. Chepngetich was the runner-up in 1:06:09 while Gudeta had to settle for third place in 1:06:49. Caroline Kipkirui of Kenya was fourth in 1:07:51 while Senebre Teferi of Ethiopia came fifth in 1:08:32.