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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Buze Diriba edges fellow Ethiopian Mamitu Daska in women’s elite Bloomsday race

Buze Diriba had one last sprint left in her.

With the finish line just at the bottom of the hill on Monroe Street and Mamitu Daska only a half-step in front of her, Diriba began to stretch her strides.

She made one final push before reaching the Monroe bridge, passing Mamitu Daska on the right.

For a moment, Diriba looked back at Daska and flashed a smile at her fellow Ethiopian. After 12 kilometers of chasing the three-year Bloomsday veteran, Diriba finally got her.

Diriba sprinted across the finish line, several steps ahead of Daska, to win the elite women’s crown at Bloomsday. Diriba clocked in at 40:19, nearly a minute slower than Daska’s best time at Bloomsday.

“I’m very happy now,” said Diriba, 23, while catching her breath after the race on Sunday.

It was Diriba’s first time taking on the Bloomsday course. Daska had visited Spokane for Bloomsday two other times. She won in 2012 when she finished in 38:26, much quicker than her 40:21 time she ran this year.

“It was a good race today,” said Daska. The 33-year-old said she always enjoys running Bloomsday because of the steep hills and tight turns.

“The course is very difficult,” she said.

The group of 25 elite women certainly took a cautious approach to the hilly course. They took their time heading into Browne’s Addition along Riverside Avenue in one of Bloomsday’s slowest starts, according to race officials. There was almost no separation in runners as the pack of women finished the first mile in 5:44.

The women picked up the pace a bit in the second mile with the leaders clocking 5:25.

Poland’s Karolina Nadolska led Diriba and Daska for the majority of the run. Nadolska temporarily lost her lead climbing Doomsday Hill and fell behind six other racers. In the middle of the climb, Daska pulled to the front of the group of seven leaders with Diriba on her heels.

As the hill flattened, Nadolska pushed ahead again. She took the lead once more heading onto Summit Boulevard, roughly 6 miles into the race. Daska stayed right behind Nadolska, with Diriba and Risper Gesabwa of Kenya running side by side in third.

Nadolska rounded the corner onto Broadway Avenue, still out in front, but it would her last clear view of the course.

Halfway up Broadway, the 35-year-old veered off to the side of the road and fell back three spots. Daska pushed to the front with Diriba right behind her before taking a final turn onto Monroe and losing the sprint battle by two seconds.

Nadolska maintained her third position in the last stretch and finished 10 seconds behind Diriba (40:29).

Sunday’s run was the fourth major race for Diriba this year. The 23-year-old most recently won the Boston Athletic Association 5-kilometer race on April 16 in 14:54. In that race, Diriba passed American Molly Huddle, who holds the 12-kilometer world record.

Daska recently won New Orleans’ Crescent City Classic 10-kilometer race in 32:19.

Daska, who has more than 40 career wins, holds some of the fastest Bloomsday times.Her 38:25 in 2010 is the third-fastest for the elite women. She also holds the fifth-fastest time of 38:26, run in 2012.

The elite women were without returning champion Cynthia Limo of Kenya, who won the last two Bloomsday races, skipped the run this year after giving birth to a girl in January.

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