Ethiopian athletes Sintayehu Legese Yinesu and Selam Abere Alebachew won the men’s and women’s titles of Soweto Marathon 2016, clocking 2:20:44 and 2:42:32, respectively.

By Daniel Mothowagae (Sowetan LIVE) |

The idea of finishing the race inside the FNB Stadium spurred Sintayehu Yinesu on to a hat-trick of Soweto Marathon wins – and Ethiopia’s clean sweep – at yesterday’s race.

Speaking after collecting his third crown in a row and the R220000 cash prize in a time of 2:20:44, Sintayehu Legese Yinesu said he was not even sure that he would be the first across the line as he had just recovered from a hamstring injury.

“I was happy when I heard that the race will finish at the stadium. The Ethiopians know the stadium very well back home because it hosted the World Cup final [in 2010],” said the runner who turns 26 next month.

Selam Abere Alebachew claimed the women’s title in 2:42:32, ahead of compatriot Chelitu Bogale Asefa in 2:45:22.

Edward Mothibi (2:25:33 in 7th) and Irvette van Zyl (2:46:32 in 3rd) where the first locals home in a hotly contested top 10 dominated by Ethiopia and Lesotho.

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A heat wave was expected to wreck havoc but race day temperatures started at around 17°C and rose to 22 in the second half to make for near-perfect weather for the runners.

There was no clear favorite after the halfway mark as there were more than 10 men in the chase in the main race.

However, Sintayehu Legese Yinesu broke away with less than 10km to go, leaving Lesotho’s Tshepo Mathibelle and his compatriot Seutloali Khoarahlane in his wake.

Tshepo Mathibelle came second in 2:21:46, while Seutloali Khoarahlane finished third in 2:23:22.

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