x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

8,000 compete in Sheikh Zayed tribute race

A race through Central Park in New York is sponsored by the UAE to raise awareness about kidney disease.

Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k race in New York yesterday.
Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k race in New York yesterday.

NEW YORK // The Ethiopian runner Gebre Gebremariam won a race through Central Park yesterday that was sponsored by the UAE to raise awareness about kidney disease and pay tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed, who suffered from the condition. Gebremariam, 25 and a resident of Addis Ababa, completed the Healthy Kidney 10K in a course-record time of 27 minutes and 42 seconds, earning a US$20,000 (Dh73,000) bonus on top of his winner's prize of US$7,500.

His time was six seconds faster than the mark established by Tadese Tola, likewise of Ethiopia, in last year's race. Gebremariam duelled throughout yesterday's race with Kenya's Peter Kamais, 33, but pulled away in the final 200-metre uphill stretch. "In my preparation I wasn't expecting to break the course record, [but] I controlled the race from the outset and knew from about the halfway point that I was going to set a record," Gebremariam said.

Gebremariam said he would use his prize to set up a foundation to help Ethiopian runners break into the international circuit. The race, which drew about 8,000 runners, was sponsored by the UAE Embassy in Washington and organised by the New York Road Runners, a 52-year-old body that stages the New York City Marathon. Two dozen professional runners led the pack of amateurs through a series of twists and hills on a clockwise loop around upper Manhattan's landmark park.

The race began in 2005 to thank American surgeons after Sheikh Zayed's kidney operation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 2000. Race proceeds help the US National Kidney Foundation pay for research into chronic kidney disease, which affects 26 million Americans and has left another 84,000 waiting for a transplant. @Email:jreinl@thenational.ae