- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

Ethiopians Worku Beyi and Bizunesh Deba were married three years ago. They train together in the Bronx borough of New York City, where they live with other competitive Ethiopian runners. The couple frequently races together, too, for the Westchester Track Club.

Yesterday over 10 misting miles between Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria, Beyi and Deba put on dominating solo performances to sweep the George Washington Parkway Classic.

The 21-year-old Beyi shed eventual runner-up Steven Crane of Silver Spring after two miles and ended in 48:26, more than four minutes ahead of Crane.

The 21-year-old Deba shed her competition in the first two steps, darting ahead of eventual runner-up Erin Moore of Woodbridge by nearly a minute in the first mile. Deba, back in training for the past year after suffering an ankle injury, hit the finish line in front of Robinson Terminal in 58:52. Moore was far back in 1:05:52.

With a weak men’s field up front, Deba was able to place fifth overall with the slowest winning women’s time in five years.

Beyi and Deba, who each earned $500, became just the second couple in the race’s 24-year history to sweep the top prize. Steve and Lori Taylor did it in 1994, when the Parkway Classic was a 15-kilometer distance.

Beyi struggled last year against former housemate Demis Tefera, who decided this year to run the Pike’s Peek 10K in Rockville. Last year, the two staged a sprint for the finish, with Beyi losing by one second in 47:31. There was no such drama in this year’s race, but it was still not easy.

“This year was hard,” said Beyi, who ran fairly even halves with an opening 24:10 five-mile split. “Since nine months ago, my hamstring on both legs are hurting. After four, five miles, I was hurting. My right one is better, but the left one is not good. I was taking it easier this year because I have Bloomsday [12-kilometer race in Spokane, Wash.,] next weekend.”

A record 3,027 runners started the race and more than 900 toed the line in the accompanying 5K, which was won by Bert Rodriguez of Arlington (15:34) and Robyn Ellerbrock (19:34).

Pike’s Peek 10K

Training partners Joel Melly and Reuben Chebii, Kenyans living in West Chester, Pa., and Demis Tefera, an Ethiopian residing in Takoma Park, crested the hill near the finish of the Pike’s Peek 10K.

In a repeat of last weekend’s Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon, Melly had the better of Chebii at Pike’s Peek, crossing the finish line first in 29:00. Chebii was right behind in 29:02, and Tefera was a second off Chebii in third.

It was a different race for the women. Genet Gebregiorgis, an Ethiopian living in Silver Spring, broke the field and won in 33:57. Hirut Mandefro (34:23) of Takoma Park, Alemgena Desta (34:32) of Silver Spring, Laura Turner (36:09) of the District and Christine Ramsey (36:19) of Baltimore followed.

The 33-year-old Gebregiorgis was sixth in the 5,000 meters in the 1997 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and was a part of five silver-medal-winning teams in the short course event at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (1998 to 2002).

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