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October 7, 2013

Ethiopians dominate Pit Run

(Continued)

Feisha, 25, finished five seconds behind Mengasha and earned $200.

Gebre, the lone member of the Ethiopian contingent who was scheduled to be here, placed third in 31:20, good for $100. He finished one spot ahead of 2012 champion Josh Edmonds, who crossed in 32:48.

Feven Alem, the agent for the four standouts who doubled as an interpreter, said the three men had a plan before the race and stuck to it. Though Mengasha and Feisha finished five seconds apart, they weren’t competing with one another. Alem said they determined before the race that Mengasha would be the winner.

The goal for the group was getting the course record. With Mengasha’s personal best over 6.2 miles of 28:30, it didn’t figure to be a problem.

“Before the race, they couldn’t understand why the course record was over 30 minutes … until they got out there and ran the course,” said Alem, who added that all four Ethiopians ran the Pit Run for the first time. “The course was very hilly. It was a very challenging course and they knew they weren’t going to PR.”

All four Ethiopians were similar in build. They all stood around 5-foot-5 (perhaps Basa was an inch or two shorter), with about 5 feet of those lean frames appearing to be legs. Their strides were long and effortless, their demeanor as calm as can be. There was a sense if someone told them at the finish line the length of the race had been doubled, they’d have just shrugged their shoulders and continued on.

Cooperstown’s Edmonds, who last year became the first area runner to win the 10K since 1995, won $75. He did not attend the awards ceremony.

Walton’s Scott Gleason, 28, finished fifth in 33:27. He took home $50.

Basa placed eighth overall — 28 seconds behind Oneonta’s Chris Popovici, who finished seventh. She normally runs longer races such as marathons, half-marathons or 10-mile events.

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