Ethiopia’s Tigist Girma will defend her title at the 47th edition of the Ottawa Marathon now renamed to Tartan Ottawa International Marathon that will be held on May 29, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.
The 28-year-old will battle for honors with the 2018 winner Gelete Burka who is also the course record holder with a time of 2:22.17.
The race organizer has put these two world-class Ethiopians to try and attack the race course that was set in 2018. Burka comes to this race with the second fastest time of 2:20.45 that she got at the 2018 Dubai Marathon where she finished in sixth place while Tigist comes with the fastest time on paper of 2:19.52 that she got at the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon where she took the silver medal.
Tigist who finished in position five at the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 2:21.56, a World Marathon Major and sixth place in Valencia in 2:19.56, trains together with Ruti Aga the 2019 Tokyo Marathon winner, Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world marathon champion and the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. She is trained by the Ethiopian Olympic marathon coach Haji Adilo.
“I was injured a few times. After the Olympics I didn’t have much of good training, but now I am in good shape and want to do better,” said Tigist. “I want to put my signature in Ottawa for the second time.”
Burka has represented Ethiopia in six successive world outdoor championships and three Olympics. In Rio Olympics six years ago, she finished fifth in the 10,000m with a personal best of 30:26.66. Had it not been for a slight on the part of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) a year later, she might never have turned to the marathon.
“In 2017 I was in Netherlands at the Ethiopian trials for the world championships. I took the top honors in 10,000m with a time of 30:40.87, but the EAF never selected me to the team for the world championships in London,” she explains her smile having vanished now. “After that I stopped track and that is the point when I went to the marathon. So, I trained for the Dubai Marathon where I ran a life time best of 2:20.45.” A year later she won the 2019 Paris Marathon in 2:22.47, then finished third in Chicago in a time of 2:20.55.
“Ottawa is a good memory for me,” she continues. “When I was training I had a bit of a leg problem with an injury to my calf and I came to Ottawa with that injury. Also I got those stomach cramps. It was not easy. That’s why I smiled when I came to the finish,” said Burka.
Burka is faithful to her church, The Glorious Life Church where attends without fail as she is also an usher and a member of the forty-member choir.
The 36 year-old has a rich cabinet as she is the 2008 World Indoor 1500m Champion, the 2006 World Cross Country champion
“The training is going on well and with one month to go I will be in great shape for the course” Burka concluded.
Ethiopian women have enjoyed a 10-year winning streak at the Ottawa Marathon before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event’s cancellation for the past two years.