Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – While it will always be difficult to predict the winner, one thing is more certain about the outcome of the race: the winners are likely to become names of the future. Past winners including Deriba Merga (2006), Tsegaye Kebede (2007) and Chala Dechasa (2008) come readily to mind.

Another striking feature of the entries for this year’s race is the growth of private clubs in Addis Ababa’s booming running market. Gone are some of more familiar names of government-sponsored clubs; in are a wealth of privately-sponsored clubs such as “Sur Construction” (a major building company), “Running Across Borders” (with international support) and clubs such as Lucy, Team Hope and Karamara.

Men’s Race

If entries translate into Sunday’s actual line-up, then the men’s race provides an interesting tussle between a number of proven road specialists. Abera Kuma who finished 2nd in the Bupa Half-Marathon in Birmingham (60:19) is entered for his 3rd appearance in this race, having finished 8th (2008) and 2nd (2009) in his two previous starts. 2012 Dubai Marathon winner Ayele Abshiro is also in the field, as too Lelisa Disasa who has a 27:11 10k track PB and a 59:30 half-marathon PB from Delhi last year. Also entered is the 2010 runner-up Yenew Alimirew who has a 5k track PB of 12:48 from earlier this summer.

Women’s Race

The women’s race is potentially more open. Many of the country’s leading road and track runners do not appear in the entries. One exception is Tirfi Tsegaye who finished 2nd behind Aberu Kebede in this year’s Berlin Marathon. She finished 8th in this race four years ago in a time of 34:29. Quicker on paper is Hiwot Ayalew, who finished 5th in the London 2012 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase. She has a 10k road PB of 33:22 set when finishing 4th here last November.

Newcomers to look out for include Senbere Teferi who has yet to race outside Ethiopia but won the annual women’s 5k in Addis Ababa in March and Tsegereda Girma who was the series champion in the recently-staged Coca Cola Road race series in Addis Ababa.

40,000 birr ($2,500) is on offer to both male and female champion in Sunday’s elite races – and perhaps more importantly the prospect of more race invitations on the international circuit.

Source: Dagmawit Amare, Great Ethiopian Run