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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tebello Ramakogoana uses patient approach to win Bloomsday men’s elite title

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

Tebello Ramakogoana didn’t take the early bait Sunday morning at the 48th Bloomsday.

When Shadrack Keter pulled away from the men’s Elite field in the first quarter mile, Ramakogoana stayed patient.

“I was patient because I didn’t know who was strong, who was weak,” said Ramakogoana, who was in his first Bloomsday.

Keter, of Kenya, built as much as a 50-meter lead over a six-man pack through the first mile, but he faded back just before the field hit Doomsday Hill.

That’s when Ramakogoana, of Lesotho, turned what appeared to be a seven-man race into a runaway.

Under a light rain, Ramakogoana pulled away, winning in an unofficial time of 34 minutes, 40 seconds.

“I told myself I’d take the move on the last hill (Doomsday),” Ramakogoana said. “I wanted to win the race (there).”

And he did.

American Diego Estrada took a distant second in 34:50. His late charge allowed him to finish runner-up comfortably but wasn’t enough to challenge Ramakogoana.

Ramakogoana not only earned $7,000 for winning, he also received a $2,500 bonus because Bloomsday was the site of the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) championship.

Keter turned the first mile in 4:31 and led the pack by 5 seconds. But after Cemetery Hill it was apparent that Keter was going to be caught.

Ramakogoana and a group of four others, including Estrada, took over.

“I made the mistake of thinking they wouldn’t hold it at Doomsday,” Estrada said. “They went really hard before (Doomsday) for about 200 meters. I thought I was going to catch them, but (Ramakongoana) was too strong.”

As Ramakogoana crested Doomsday Hill the race turned into a one-man event. When he turned onto Lindeke, he looked over his left shoulder. He had the race firmly in hand.

Ramakogoana pushed his lead to 100 meters before turning onto Monroe and easing across the finish line.

“The race is nice,” Ramakogoana said. “The course is beautiful.”

Although Estrada was well in Ramakogoana’s rearview mirror as the race neared the end, he kept searching for another gear.

“I didn’t give up chasing until the end,” Estrada said. “At that point he was gone.”

Estrada thought the field was on a record pace.

“I was hurting a lot and I thought we were going to break the course record,” Estrada said. “But the ties weren’t there.”

Keter’s early strategy didn’t deter Estrada, who was making his third appearance at Bloomsday.

“I’ve learned after three years the first 5 (miles) you can’t yo -yo,” Estrada said. “Those (early) hills are tougher than Doomsday. I was trying to entice the guys to run fast, but I didn’t want to be covering the moves. I was 20 to 30 meters behind them at some point, but I was confident we were all going to get together. The last 2 miles, if you know how to attack the course, that’s where you go. That’s where you have to have something.”

Only Ramakogoana had something after topping Doomsday.

“I knew he was solid,” Estrada said. “He was fourth at Worlds in the marathon. Once he made his move it was going to be tough for him to blow up. I was running a 4:30 mile pace at that point and I had to be running 4:20 on tired legs.”

• The wheelchair winners won going away.

Hermon Garic, of Utica, New York, won the men’s title in his seventh Bloomsday in an unofficial time of 30:47 and Hannah Dederick, of Spokane, took the women’s title in her fifth Bloomsday in 39:47.