NEW YORK // The Ethiopian athlete, Tadese Tola, won a UAE-sponsored 10km race through Central Park yesterday in an annual event that raises awareness about kidney disease and pays tribute to one of the condition's most famous sufferers - the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan. In heavy rain, Tola duelled with the defending champion, Kenya's Patrick Makau, 24, for the first half of the Healthy Kidney 10K course, but then pulled away to finish in a record time of 27 minutes and 48 seconds, adding a US$20,000 (Dh73,500) "Zayed Bonus" to his winner's prize of US$7,500. "I'm really pleased about getting the new lap record here in New York," said Tola, who added that his winnings would pay for an extension to his family home in Addis Ababa. "The rain made it a little more difficult, but it wasn't too hard." About 10,000 amateur athletes took part in the race, which is staged by New York Road Runners, the body behind New York City's marathon, working on behalf of the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, and the Armed Forces Officers' Club. The UAE has sponsored the race since 2005 as a thank you to American surgeons who performed Sheikh Zayed's kidney operation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 2000 - a procedure that extended the ruler's life by four years. The previous record was set at 28 minutes and 8 seconds by the American athlete Dathan Ritzenhein in 2007. Starting and finishing at the southwest corner of Central Park, the course takes runners through a series of twists and hills in a clockwise loop around Manhattan's verdant 341-hectare landmark. A spokesman for the UAE Embassy said the race was "launched as a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed ... a person who knew first-hand the perils of kidney disease and the benefits of early detection". The race helps the National Kidney Foundation raise awareness and fund research into chronic kidney disease, which has 26 million sufferers in the US alone and 75,000 waiting for a life-saving transplant operation. More than 20,500 runners have completed the course since 2005, with the number of finishers growing each year from 4,146 in the the inaugural event to 6,273 last year. As of last year, 11,449 finishers have been men and 9,141 have been women. email@example.com
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