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Protest denied, Gebre wins first marathon

Chelimo takes men's race at Honolulu Marathon

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:03 p.m. HST, Dec 12, 2010

Belainesh Gebre, a late entrant from Ethiopia running her first marathon, won the women's race of the Honolulu Marathon today, despite a protest filed by defending champion and second-place finisher Svetlana Zakharova.

Gebre's winning time was 2 hours, 32 minutes and 13 seconds. The 22-year-old receives $40,000 for first place and $3,000 in time bonuses.

Zakharova gets $16,000 for second place.

At issue was assistance for Gebre in the form of liquids from her boyfriend, Ezkyas Tsegaya, during the race -- which could be interpreted to be in violation of a United States Track and Field rule. Tsegaya, who paced with Gebre until he dropped out at the last mile, wore a belt with drink containers and shared them with Gebre, according to two people who witnessed it.

Gebre and Tsegaya denied wrongdoing.

"I am so happy," Gebre said after hearing the protest was denied.

Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal and the marathon's referee and attorney, Dick Sutton, made the ruling after consultation with USTAF.

"The rule is discretionary," Barahal said. "The results stand as determined on the course.

"We don't think (Tsegaya) acted appropriately," Barahal added, but also that it is debatable if what they allegedly did violated the spirit of the rule, since Gebre did not have access to aid stations for elite runners.

"Anything can happen in sports," said a disappointed but gracious Zakharova, through an interpreter. "There must be a reason for the ruling."

Nicholas Chelimo won the men's race in a non-record time of 2:15:17 seconds.

The 32-year-old Kenyan was second last year to Patrick Ivuti, who did not compete this year due to injuries. Chelimo's purse is $40,000 for the win plus a $1,000 time bonus.

Richard Limo, also of Kenya, was second today, exactly two minutes later.

Masazumi Soejima of Japan won the men's wheelchair race in 1:29:51.Wakako Tsuchida, also of Japan, was the women's wheelchair winner in 1:55:21.

A total of 20,735 of the 22,806 official entrants for the 38th annual event started the race at 5 a.m. today, passing the Aloha Tower starting line amid fair but humid weather conditions and predawn fireworks.

The finishers included Glady Burrill, 92, who finished in 10:04:20.

Also, Jerold Chun (5:27:09) and Gary Dill (6:48:57) became the only two people to finish all 38 Honolulu Marathons.

Sports columnist Dave Reardon is live blogging the marathon, read his blog for updates on the race.

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