Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Asleep at the Wheel

Last weekend was a busy weekend for running. We have been asleep at the wheel here at Roocha.net. But while we were dozing off, roocha never stops, so others have picked up the slack and helped us out. We received the following email from Gedeonsharew who was at the Scotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country event and wached Kenenisa, in basketball shorts, destroy the field. With many thanks to Gedeonsharew and with his permission we are positing his email.

Hi guys,

Allow me to invoke my bragging rights having watched this at the venue.


As cross country events go, it was an open field with just a single strip of loose rope on either side of the winding and undulating 9km route separating the runners from the spectators. It was like watching golf, as enthusiasts like me (and of course several others) were able to scurry around the middle of the winding course to catch a good view at every turn except when the runners disappear behind the hill for a short portion of the route.

I actually got so excited half way thru, me and a couple of other guys waited for the leading pack to turn the corner and then started running right along side them (on the outside of the rope of course) for a few seconds, me with my huge bandira blowing high up (in the hope of being picked up by the live BBC camera feed). It was actually more like a blur because to my horror I found the speed at which the likes of Kenenisa, Zeresenay, Kipchoge... gallop tough the muddy and hilly course, is faster than my full speed sprint and this is just midway before they start picking up real speed.

Anyway, it was truly breathtaking to see a reportedly "not fully fit" Kenenisa bursting up and down the course with unbelievable ease and energy. The man is quite small (not very thin even at his ideal weight). When you look at him up close while he is burning the course, the confident face, the jutting chest, the amazingly long strides (I couldn't stretch my strides that wide for a long jump), the way he seems to lightly bounce off the ground each time he lands a foot, the perfect rhythm, the devastating finishing speed... was exhilarating to watch. The race probably would have been wildly exciting if Zeresenay didn't run out of steam but instead held on for a sprint finish.

Zeresenay who is shorter but slightly stockier was constantly a step ahead or behind of Kenenisa throughout most of the race and actually towards the beginning of the last lap tried to lead. It was to no avail as Kenenisa easily shot past him and continued to widen his lead to the finish. Zeresenay is a bit stooped and seems to bury his head in his shoulders (as opposed to Kenenisa's front-jutting) and therefore not too stylish of runner, but definitely a strong and very talented athlete who now seems second only to Kenenisa.

Kenenisa's face and body is very fresh and young and leaves no doubt that he is not a day older than his official 24 years. Zeresenay has one of those rugged ageless faces like Haile Gebreslassie’s, and could lead you to think that he can be anywhere between 20 to 55.

The women's race was similarly exciting. Gelete Burka who has a very strong, fast and wide stride, never seemed in doubt of winning. She ran like a rocket with her head and body leaning out front in an angle. Like Kenenisa, she won very comfortably and her victory never seemed in doubt after the first few laps.

There were about twenty five Ethio types from Edinburgh/Glasgow and about a hundred or so very boisterous Eritreans mostly from London. The atmosphere among the two groups was very friendly and civilized through out. Prior to the start of the race, I almost created an incident when my bandira was blown out of my hand by the gale force wind, and of all places landed a few hundred feet away right smack in the middle of Eritrean bandirawoch held high by a group of singing and dancing Zeresenay tifozowoch (and Hailesilassie yimut it was totally unintended). I mean the bandira made a few very wide arcs above the huge field and it probably had a chance of one in a thousand to land on the Eritreans, and that is exactly what it did. Anyhow, at first, I saw some in the Eritrean crowd with a bewildered look, then a frowning and questioning look toward the small Ethiopian crowd I was with. Thankfully, a young pretty girl ran across field and delivered the flag to us to my great relief, it seems like just plain kind heartedness and/or camaraderie in a foreign land took over. Imagine how bad I would have felt if some sort of fracas broke out as a result - especially when the fact that the bandira’s air trip was accidental and not plausible. I think one of the good things is a lot of the crowd on both sides (and I think increasingly in many public gatherings in the general Diaspora) are youngish under 30s who have so much less baggage and hang-ups.

The small Edinburgh/Glasgow Habesha community who seem to have a loose network had organized a dinner and dance party afterwards to honor the athletes and also to have a belated Habesha Gena party. We had a great party well into the wee hours.


If you enjoy Gedeonsharew's report drop him an appriciation comment.


Anonymous said...

very nice report next time keep your bandira close 2 u

Anonymous said...

Many thanks Gedeonsharew for the nice play by play report. Our man Kenenisa is simply unstoppable!

D said...

I wishe i could be there but thanks for the report

Somsoma said...

Anon- sorry but the bandira should be flown high for the athlete's motivation- remember "kebandiraw gar new kal kidanachn, atafrbnm Haile abatachn"

bawza said...

somsoma..anno could be an eri...

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