"Sost gua de nya moch" translated from Ethiopian means "three friends."
Lelisa Desisa, Tilahun Regassa and Tadese Tola provided, perhaps, the most memorable and sportsmanlike finish to the Bolder Boulder professional men's race in history Monday when they ran three-abreast into Folsom Field holding hands. They remained linked together through the finish line causing a joyous celebration from a group of their countrymen in the stands and a nightmare for race organizers forced to provide an order of finish.
The record books will show Desisa nipped Regassa and Tola, but that won't be how anyone remembers the 32nd running of the Memorial Day classic, especially the three friends who were greeted and embraced by the victorious Ethiopian women's team at the finish.
"I am very happy," Desisa said. "I'm also very happy our country we repeat."
Desisa's winning time was recorded as 29 minutes, 17 seconds. Regassa, the 2009 winner, also recorded at 29.17, exactly 1 minute slower than he performed last year, and Tola's official time was 29.18.
It's the fourth time in the past six years an Ethiopian man has won and the sixth time in history an Ethiopian has captured the title. Ethiopia also earned a perfect score in the International Team Challenge, taking home the $15,000 prize. Team Colorado was second earning a total of $27,500 with a U.S. Olympic team training funds bonus and Kenya was third.
When they were called to the podium on the field later, the Ethiopians shared the top spot leaving the other two empty providing no doubt how they felt about their accomplishment. The true team performance looked like a casual training run because of the lack of any real challenge after the third mile.
A pack of five broke away almost as soon as the race began. It was the Ethiopian team accompanied by two Kenyans. They ran a blistering first mile in 4:16 and were flirting with a
world record three-mile run after the first two miles.
The Ethiopians began showing their dominance in the third mile, losing one of the Kenyans.
The Ethiopians entered the race feeling confident. They felt so good, in fact, that they actually planned to finish together ahead of time as long as no member of the Kenyan team managed to keep pace. By the time they reached the finish line, the two Kenyans who had gone to the front with the Ethiopian team at the start hadn't even entered the stadium.
"It was a big, tough race, but since we were all running together it made it easier," Tola said through an interpreter at the post-race press conference.
Former University of Colorado runner Brent Vaughn finished fourth (29.56) representing Team Colorado in what might have been the most inspired individual performance of the day. Vaughn was proud of his effort and grinned at the realization that Team Colorado (second) had defeated Team USA (fifth), but he was impressed by the trio who finished in front of him.
"We knew they were incredible," Vaughn said. "They've got some good athletes. It was a little warm so we knew we were going to run a conservative race and let them run their race. If they came back, they came back. If they didn't, I guess we were running for second, which we were."