Gelana wants to put difficult period behind her by winning the Dam to Damloop

Tiki Gelana

Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia wants to leave behind a disappointing 18-month period by winning the Dam tot Damloop, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race from Amsterdam to Zaandam on Sunday (21).

Her main contender is a man: the winner of last year’s race, Nguse Amlosom of Eritrea. The biggest and most famous Dutch road race over 10 miles is a battle between the sexes.

The women start six minutes and four seconds ahead of the men, which represents the difference in the course records. Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen set the women’s mark of 50:31 back in 1987, while Leonard Komon clocked 44:27 in 2011.

Whoever crosses the finish line first – man or woman – will receive the winner’s bonus.

Last year, it was a close fight between Amlosom and Joyce Chepkirui, who was the first woman in five years to win here. Gelana is the favourite this year, but she is aware that she has something to prove.

“I’m very glad that the organisers are giving me this opportunity,” she said at the press conference on Friday. “I always like to run in the Netherlands, where I won my first marathon in Amsterdam in 2011 and set my PB of 2:18:58 in Rotterdam in 2012.

“The victory at the Olympic Games changed my life a lot,” she added. “My family, my team-mates and my coach were very happy for me.”

But Gelana was less fortunate afterwards. She wanted to run the New York Marathon in November 2012, but it was cancelled because of the weather conditions. At the London Marathon the following April, she collided with a wheel chair.

“I finished the race, but afterwards I found out that I was badly injured and it took me a very long time to fully recover,” said Gelana, who was unable to finish the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

“Physically and mentally I had a difficult time, but now I’m in a good shape again.”

Two weeks ago, the Ethiopian finished third at the Great North Run in 68:45. Her next big goal will be the Yokohama Women’s Marathon in November.

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