Girma Bikila, the stranger to whom the New York Marathon has changed his life
No one was surprised to see Geoffrey Kamworor at the top of the podium at the New York Marathon. Nor does Albert Korir take second place in the drawer. What did perplex many people was that the third was occupied by a semi-unknown athlete and did not even go out among elite athletes. One Girma Bekele starred in a spectacular race in one of the most mythical ‘majors’ on the circuit, a test with a special pedigree and that is a legend in the world of athletics. So much, that he managed to finish in third place, something that has changed and will change his life the next times.
Without sponsors ... and without dating the elite!
In fact, he climbed onto the podium dressed in a simple sleeveless shirt without a sponsor. At 26, virtually no one knew first-class brands or heard of him in major races. The Ethiopian, beyond the despicable $ 55,000 of the prize (40,000 from third place and 15,000 from 2:09), from now on he will have endless brands fighting for him.
Bekele, beyond that legendary surname, lived until now on the couch of a friend of his in the New York neighborhood of the Bronx waiting for the opportunity of his life, which arrived in the 42 kilometers by the Big Apple. There He entered the finish line only 25 seconds later than the winner (2:08:38), the current world record holder of half marathon and one of the athletes called to lead the fund's future.
A rocambolesque story
Through a translator, Girma said after the race that “I decided to join the elite athletes after seeing that the first half marathon had been relatively slow (1:04:49). I didn't know if I could follow the lead group considering that I had never run with some of the best athletes in the world before. ” Height training in his native Ethiopia worked for Bekele, which, in spite of everything, had never trained more than 20 miles on asphalt before. The Ethiopian, not going out among the elite, did not benefit from the ‘privileges’ of these, who had personalized supplies and everything else prepared to make it perfect; he, like the rest of 50,000 participants, only had water and Gatorade.
"Surely he has already run more than 100 races in the New York area, but they are races that professionals do not usually go to," says Stabb, a myth of the West Side Runners club, the club for which Bekele runs in New York “He usually participates in tests in which the prizes range between 500 and 1,000 dollars"