MICHAEL AISH GIVES THE RACE TWO
THUMBS UP.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO

Two Olympians Battle on Middle
Ground at ING Philadelphia Distance Run

BY DAVID BLOCK

Two Olympians Battle on Middle Ground at ING Philadelphia Distance Run

By David Block

PHILADELPHIA, PA--At the 31st Running of the ING Philadelphia Distance Run this past September 21, two Olympians from the 2008 summer games at Beijing butted heads. Liliya Shobukhova of Russia and Catherine Ndereba of Kenya squared off as they vied for the first place cash prize of $3,500.00. Shobukhova finished the 13.1-mile half-marathon course first, 1:10:21, and Ndereba finished second, 1:10:31, to collect the runner-up consolation cash prize of $2000.00.

“This race was middle ground for them,” said Shobukhova’s manager/interpreter Andrey Baranov. “Liliya runs 5Ks, Catherine runs Marathons.”

 

 THE TOP THREE FINISHERS, TEREFU ZWEDI (SECOND),
YIREFU BIRHANU (FIRST), AND GIRMA TOLA (THIRD),
ALL OF ETHIOPIA.
CLAW SHAW PHOTO
When asked if she knew that Ndereba won the ING Philadelphia Distance Run six times, her manager answered, “The only thing that Liliya knew about Catherine was that she ran marathons.” Shobukhova had no idea that no man or woman ever came close to winning this race as many times as Ndereba.

“From the beginning of the race, I was feeling good,” said Shobukhova, through Baranov. “I was running at my own pace. I didn’t think about Catherine or anyone. I found myself at the front of the pack. At 15K (9.3 miles), some of the Kenyan girls pushed the pace, so I pushed, too.” She soon grabbed the lead and held on to win.

Baranov said that the ING Philadelphia Distance Run was practice for Shobukhova, who hopes to run some marathons next year. She has no plans of abandoning the 5K. At the Summer Olympics in Beijing, she placed sixth in the 5K finals, 15:46.62, while Ndereba won a silver medal in the marathon, finishing with a 2:27:06 clocking.

“This was my first big race after Beijing,” said Ndereba. “I thought I had a chance to win (the ING Philadelphia Distance Run), but every day is different.”

Collecting $1,500.00 for third place was Irene Limika, 1:10:50.

Abby Dean received $1000.00 for being the first female Philadelphia resident to finish. Dean placed 10th, 1:17:50.

 

 LILIYA SHOBUKHOVA OF
RUSSIA WINS THE
DISTANCE RUN ON THE
WOMEN’S SIDE BY 10
SECONDS.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
“I wasn’t sure if I’d be the first Philadelphian or not,” said Dean.

Drama unfolded in the open men’s field when the starting gun blasted. Nephat Kinjanyui of Kenya grabbed the lead without anyone responding. When he clocked 14:06 at the 5K mark, race officials on the press truck thought that he had a chance of breaking the ING Philadelphia Distance Run course record of 60:27 set by Khalid Khannouchi back in 1997. However, Kinjanyui dropped out at the five-mile mark.

“I’m glad he dropped out; he was going too fast,” said Yirefu Birhanu of Ethiopia who won, 1:01:22.

After five miles, Birthanu and his two fellow countrymen, Terefu Zwedi and Girma Tola, were in the lead pack. None of the frontrunners tried to break away. They were still together on Kelly Drive when they reached the 15K mark. Their split was 43 minutes 46 seconds. They were feeling each other out, waiting to see who would strike first.

And with less than 800 meters to go, Birthanu surged ahead to win, beating runner-up Zwedi by one second and Tola by four.

The first male Philadelphian to cross the finish line was 18th place finisher Matt Byrne, 1:07:47.

When asked how he planned to spend his thousand-dollar cash prize, the Philadelphian said that he had to pay off some bills and then take his girlfriend out to dinner. “She warned me that I better take her to an expensive restaurant,” said Byrne.

Several former Philadelphia Phillies were on hand to support the Tug McGraw Foundation. Dealing with brain tumors is the foundation’s mission.

 

SONIA O’SULLIVAN, 15TH FEMALE
OVERALL, DOES VILLANOVA PROUD.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
Former Philadelphia Phillie, Greg "The Bull" Luzinski ran a few blocks of the ING Philadelphia Distance Run.

“I had no intention of running 13 miles,” said Luzinski. “I’m not a runner. I walk. I give the runners a lot of respect. It takes special training and special people to do that.”