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An Ethiopian finished third in the New York City marathon even though he started way back in the field, amongst 50,000 other amateurs, and had to pay to enter

Barnaby Lane , Business Insider US
 Nov 06, 2019, 02:11 PM
Girma Bekele Gebre (right.)
  • Girma Bekele Gebre paid to enter the New York City marathon on Sunday amongst 50,000 other amateurs.
  • But even though he started way back in the field, he managed to finish the race in third place, just 25 seconds behind the leader. He won $40,000 (R590,000) in prize money.
  • "I don't have a sponsor," the Ethiopian told The New York Times. "I don't have an agent. I just compete individually."
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Girma Bekele Gebre started the New York City Marathon on Sunday amongst 50,000 other amateurs who had paid to race.

Two hours, eight minutes, and 38 seconds later, he crossed the line in third place and took home a prize of $40,000 (R590,000).

Gebre, who hails from Ethiopia, is a sub-elite runner who splits his time between his home country and America, according to The New York Times.

When at home, he spends his time practicing on gravel roads and in woods with fellow locals, running up to 25 miles (56 kilometres) at a time. However, when on US soil, he practices shorter distances of around 20 miles (32 kilometres) with the West Side Runners Club (WSX) in New York City.

On Sunday, he began to struggle around that mark, however, it didn't stop the 26-year-old going on to finish just 25 seconds behind eventual winner Geoffrey Kamworor - who currently holds the half marathon world record.

"I'm surprised that the time was as good as it was," Gebres' WSX teammate and veteran runner Bill Staab told The New York Times. Gebre's personal best was the 2:13:46 he ran in Pittsburgh in May.

"He's probably run 100 races in the New York area, but those are usually races that professionals are not invited to. All the Ethiopian runners here are very excited for him."

Gebre said he would use the prize money - the most he's ever won in a single race - to help his family on their farm in Ethiopia. It is unclear when he intends to compete again.

"I don't have a sponsor," he said. "I don't have an agent. I just compete individually."

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