L.A. Marathon: Burka (men’s), Gobena (women’s) in Ethiopian sweep
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Amane Gobena ran two marathons in two months, and after winning the second in Los Angeles, she’ll now have enough money for that dream home.
The 31-year-old Ethiopian woman won the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 37 seconds after finishing sixth in Dubai on Jan. 25.
She crossed the finish line 41 seconds ahead of men’s champion and fellow Ethiopian Gebo Burka and won a $50,000 bonus for being the first elite runner to finish. The women started 17:41 ahead of the men. She also won a $25,000 first prize as top woman.
"I’m building a house, and definitely that home will be paid off," Gobena said through an interpreter.
Burka won in 2:10:37.
Gobena finished second here in 2009, but that was on a different course than the current Stadium to the Sea that runs from Dodger Stadium to the Pacific Ocean.
Still, she knew enough to leave runner-up and fellow Ethiopian Tigist Tufa in mile 23 and was not challenged.
Tufa finished in a personal-best 2:28:04, and American Lauren Kleppin was third in 2:28:48, some 13 minutes faster than her previous best. Her goal had been to run at least 2:37, the standard for the Olympic trials that will be in Los Angeles, albeit possibly on a different course, in 2016.
Burka clocked his best time since a 2:10:18 in Cannes, France, five years ago. Through an interpreter, he said he has been sick the last three years but has since returned feeling strong.
"(Through) the instruction of my coach, I cut my amount of exercise, so I was able to save me energy and accomplish my goals," Burka said.
Lani Rutto of Kenya was second in 2:10:48. He challenged Burka over the last three miles but ultimately faded when Burka zigzagged in mile 25. Rutto said that was the major reason he couldn’t catch Burka.
Defending champion Erick Mose was third in 2:12:56. He had fallen well back of the pack of six in mile 13 but rallied.
"I was good but I had a big problem reaching 15 miles," Mose said. "I had a big problem with my back running downhill. A lot of pain, so I lost my pace with the other guys."
Joshua George won the men’s wheelchair division in 1:33:11, and Susanna Scaroni won the women’s race in 1:54:54.