Three natives of Ethiopia crossed the finish line within a span of five seconds just around 7 p.m. last night in the Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile Road Race, supplying three of the top five times in the race’s last 10 years.
The 53rd running of the Provident Bank Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile Road Race will be remembered for being an Ethiopian sweep on both the men’s and women’s side, but it should also be remembered as being one of the fastest in race history.
Aschalew Mekete, Mengistu Nebsi and Tariku Bokan — all natives of Ethiopia now living in New York City — swept the top three spots in the men’s race. Aschalew Mekete won in 49:07, the fastest time since Alena Reta ran it in 48:46 in 2005. Nebsi and Bokan trailed Mekete by a few steps, and by the way the men gracefully jogged up the final homestretch without so much as a threat to overtake the top position, the men seemed destined to split the $950 in prize money for the top three places.
The African domination used to be an annual theme from 2005 to 2007, when Reta won three consecutive 10-mile title. Ethiopian and Kenyan professional runners who had migrated to New York City took the bus up to Newburyport on the day of the race in pursuit of the $4,300 in prize money the race offers.
Indian Orchard resident Amos Sang, a graduate of Anberlin Christian University in Texas, took fourth place last night in 50:13. He said the Ethiopians put the race away by the 5-mile mark.
“I went out too fast, and they wore me out at the end,” Sang said. “At mile 5 or 6, they picked it up a little. There was a pack, and they started separating. I got stuck by myself. I was the chase guy, and I kept chasing. But they were pretty good.”