Toronto, Canada – Sahle Warga became the first Ethiopian athlete to win the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon here on Sunday, when he came in first in 2:10.36.

Unheralded, when compared to the Kenyans John Kiprotich, Kiplimo Kimutai and Gilbert Yegon, who have all run much faster, the Ethiopian stole the race near 39km.

It was at that point that Kiprotich was pushing the pace with only Kimutai left among the contenders. For some inexplicable reason Kiprotich, after passing the refreshment table there, turned back to collect a bottle. A gap suddenly appeared and Warga was away and gone.

Despite his personal best being 2:09:40 recorded at the 2010 Venice Marathon, Warga had secretly harboured thoughts of defeating the big names. He was easily distinguishable wearing a woolen hat and never straying far from the lead.

“This was a very nice race,” said the happy winner in English, “and I thought I would win 25 kilometres into the race. It was very cold and it was raining so I’m very happy to win. I didn’t run my personal best, it was a little windy, but with this result I am happy.

“I knew from my training in Addis that I was ready to race well.”

Immediately after the race a friend, who had been following an internet live-stream of the race in Addis, let his wife know he had won. He collects $20,000 for his efforts today. The couple has a one year old son. Read more