“I would love to be the man who brings the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon title to Ethiopia,” says Siraj Gena upon learning that no Ethiopian man has ever won this IAAF Silver Label race.

“I want to win in a fast time. Yes, the bonuses are very nice for a fast time but the money is not what really motivates me. I really want to run much faster than my personal best as I am capable of doing and I want to really show my talent this year.”

The 27-year-old sports a personal best time of 2:08:31 set in Frankfurt a year ago.

Gena famously won the 2010 Rome Marathon in 2:08:39 after stopping with 500 metres remaining to remove his shoes. Race organizers had offered the winners 5000 Euros to cross the finish line barefoot to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Abebe Bikila’s barefoot victory in the 1960 Olympics. read more