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Ethiopian Birhanu Legese wins 33rd Dam tot Damloop

Birhanu Legesa - Dam tot Dam

Amsterdam – In a surprising victory, Birhanu Legese was the winner of today’s 33rd Dam tot Damloop. In the last kilometre of the race, the Ethiopian managed to fight off the competition and was the first to cross the finish line on Peperstraat in Zaandam.

He clocked up a time of 45 minutes and 35 seconds. Fellow Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew and Jiksa Tedesse also finished in second and third place respectively. Among the female runners, Mercyline Chelangat from Uganda won first place, with a time of 53.08. The male-female race was won by Legese, who overtook the women after just 12 kilometres.

The men started running on Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam 6 minutes and 4 seconds after the women (the difference between the course record for the men and women). At 16.1km from Amsterdam to Zaandam, a large lead group started to break away. The group included the two-time winner Edwin Kiptoo, Michel Butter and Khalid Choukoud. Despite an energetic start, the Dutch contingent was left behind by the African runners before the 5km mark. Seven athletes remained together right until the last kilometre, with Kiptoo making his presence known at the front. The real decision was only made in the centre of Zaandam, when the two Ethiopians, Legese and Alamirew, went into their final sprint. It was on the Dam in Zaandam that Legese, a fast half marathon runner, ultimately pulled off the best sprint. He clung onto victory with a lead of seven seconds.

Kenyan Edwin Kiptoo went for the hat trick today, but paid the price in the last kilometre. He struggled to keep pace with the Ethiopians and finished just outside of the podium, in fourth place, with a time of 45.53 minutes. Khalid Choukoud was the fastest Dutch runner, coming in at eleventh place in 47.29 minutes. Michel Butter had to settle for 15th place, with a time of 49.23 minutes.

Today, the women did not even get a look-in in the fight for the Grote Zaanse Prijs, which is awarded to the man or woman first to cross the finish line. After 12 kilometres, the women were overwhelmed by the rapid pace of the male competitors. But the female competition made for an interesting watch. Until the last kilometre, six different nationalities were still in the running to win: Uganda, Ethiopia, Japan, Burundi, Romania and Kenya. It only became clear on Peperstraat that Chelangat was the strongest female runner. She shrugged off the Ethiopian Sofia Assefa and Japanese Risa Takenake in the final metres of the race. Jip Vastenburg, who kept up with the lead group’s pace for around ten kilometres, was happy to finish in eighth place. ‘For me, this really is a homecoming’, she said after crossing the finish line.

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