By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
BOSTON (12-Apr) — Coming into Monday’s 117th Boston Marathon, Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam hopes an old adage rings true: that the third time’s the charm. At 28-years-old, the father of two is looking to make Monday’s trek from Hopkinton to Boston his best yet.
“I expect to finish very well in this race,” Gebremariam told Race Results Weekly here today. “I remember this race very well.”
Boston has been both kind and cruel to Gebremariam. In 2011 –his Boston debut– Gebremariam placed third behind Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop. Helped by a favorable tailwind, Gebremariam set his current personal best of 2:04:53. A year later, with temperatures in the upper 80’s Fahrenheit (27C) plagued his journey, which culminated in a 14th place, 2:22:56 finish.
“Last year was very bad. The weather was very hot,” Gebremariam recalled in a dejected tone. “But this year maybe the weather is better I hope.”
According to local television affiliate WBZ-TV, race-day forecasts call for sunny skies and temperatures topping out at 60 Fahrenheit (16C) — conditions ideal for the tall Ethiopian.
“I think it is better cool than hot. I like it [cool],” he said.
Temperatures were cool and comfortable when Gebremariam battled American Ryan Hall in the latter stages of the 2011 race, a contest which he considers to be one of the highlights of his career.
“I have a big memory from that race. I remember Ryan Hall; we ran the race from 36 [kilometers] to the finish together,” he said with a smile.
Coming into Monday’s race, Gebremariam believes he has two key assets in his arsenal: experience and company.
Having run through the eight cities and towns twice before, Gebremariam is familiar with the surroundings, including the famed Heartbreak Hill section in Newton.
“I know the course very well. Even last year I was behind but I knew every corner, every hill and downhill,” he said. “I prefer hilly kind of races than flat, I prefer up and down.”
Company comes from the four other Ethiopians who will join him on the starting line: Lelisa Desisa, Markos Geneti, Levy Matebo, and Deriba Merga. Gebremariam is familiar with all four, and hopes to work with them during the early stages of the race.
“If we are two or three or more together, we can have a chance to do group work to help each other,” he said. “To have Ethiopians here, it is a good advantage.”
The last Boston Marathon champion from Ethiopia was Merga in 2009. In total, three men from the country have claimed the laurel wreath here.
Healthy and ready to go, Gebremariam is focused on trying to join Merga, Hailu Negussie, and Abebe Mekonnen as champions of the Boston Marathon. Asked for a prediction for the race, Gebremariam paused briefly before answering.
“I don’t know place: one, two, three, or four — I cannot say. But I expect good results for this race.”