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Buzunesh Deba, left, with Tigist Tufa, was second in the 2013 New York City Marathon, months after her friend Meskerem Legesse died. Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times -

Buzunesh Deba, left, with Tigist Tufa, was second in the 2013 New York City Marathon, months after her friend Meskerem Legesse died. Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times –

On the international odyssey of elite running, from Ethiopia to the United States, Buzunesh Deba and Meskerem Legesse were training partners, roommates and best friends.

When Legesse died of a heart attack at 26 last year, recovering from the grief proved harder for Deba than winning any marathon.

“I needed her,” Deba, 27, said. “She made me faster; she made me more serious. She told me to keep going.”

Deba, who finished second in the New York City Marathon in two of the last three years, is again a favorite for Sunday’s race. And she said her grief over losing Legesse in July 2013 had subsided, allowing her to focus on running.

Their passion for the sport began in Ethiopia, where they idolized Derartu Tulu, who started the running movement among East African woman by winning a gold medal for Ethiopia in the 10,000 meters at the 1992 Olympics.

Read more at: New York Times

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