Ethiopia's Assefa wins women's race
Meskerem Assefa pumped her fist as she crossed the finish line Saturday morning in one of the closest races in the women's division of the Cooper River Bridge Run.
Assefa, an Ethiopian competing in Charleston for the first time, won the women's division with a time of 32 minutes, 31 seconds on the 10-kilometer course. Finishing just behind her was fellow Ethiopian Teyba Nasser, who finished second for the second straight year, with a time of 32:34.
Only six seconds separated the top four finishers.
Kenyan Jane Kibii edged out Janet Cherobon for third place in a photo finish as both runners posted times of 32:37. Anzhelika Averkova of the Ukraine finished a distant fifth with a time of 33:38. Allison Grace of Blowing Rock, N.C., was the top American finisher, claiming sixth place with a time of 33:56.
"It was a good race," said the 23-year-old Assefa, who finished in 10th place in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "It was close, but there was no problem."
Assefa's time was the 15th fastest in Cooper River Bridge Run history. It also is the fastest time since 2006, the first year that the race was run on the new bridge. Nasser's time tied for the 17th fastest time in history.
The temperature at race time was in the upper 40s and the runners were aided by a brisk tail wind as they crossed the bridge from Mount Pleasant to Charleston.
"It was cool up there, but it was OK," Assefa said. "The wind was good. It helped me."
Assefa is an up-and-coming runner. She set three personal bests last year, in the 3,000-meter run, the 1,500-meter run (indoors) and the 2,000. She won the 3,000 at Lille, France, and finished first in the Cross de Les Mureaux, which was also contested in France.
"I want to do better," she said. "I have to improve my times."