Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fasil Bizuneh

Fasil Bizuneh the Dallas White Rock Half-Marathon last Sunday and here is a clipping from the Dallas Morning News:

Fasil Bizuneh, a 26-year-old from Bristol, Tenn., won the men's half marathon division after passing Valentine Orare just before the finish line. Both runners were clocked in 1:02:59, with Bizuneh setting a personal best by three minutes.

Last month, Orare placed second in an eight-kilometer race in Richmond, Va., finishing 10 seconds ahead of Bizuneh. A fifth-place finish there earned Bizuneh $100. Sunday, the former Arizona State All-American won $5,000.

That's a big help when you're a professional runner, as Bizuneh is. He has a degree in chemical engineering, but for the last seven months he has focused on his running.

"I'm sponsored by New Balance, and they pay me a stipend, but this is my career. I don't do anything else," Bizuneh said. "To make $5,000 here, it's good for my bank account."

Bizuneh made his marathon debut Oct. 1, running 2:18:14 and placing fifth at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – which doubled as the USA Marathon Championships. But it's Sunday's performance that really gives him confidence for next month's USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston.

"Now I've got a faster PR," Bizuneh said. "It will help me mentally to compete with some of the fastest guys in the country and compete for a national championship."

Fasil Bizuneh is part of a training group called The American Distance Project and is coached by Scott Simmons who has been a national team coach twice. The training group has a web site, www.americandistanceproject.com. The site includes short bios, and news. The site also has a FasilBlog which is actually an interview about his 2:18 marathon debut. The 2:18:12 qualifies him for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.