Both runners had to work hard for their victories on a tough new course in the northern part of the Ethiopian capital around the Jan Meda Race Ground.
The changes in start and finish location from its traditional venue in Meskel Square had been forced upon the organizers as a result of road and rail construction work in the city.
Tsegay won the 13th edition of the race in a time of 29:21, the slowest winning time since Gebregziabher Gebremariam won in 2002.
However, the winning time didn’t matter to Tsegay, who fought hard over the second part of the course to claw back a 10-metre deficit over a hilly section of the route between 6km and 9km.
A group of 11 passed the halfway mark in 13:38, after the leading pack was gradually whittled down to five by 6km and three by 7km.
At this point 2013 Boston Marathon champ Lelisa Desisa started to struggle. Indicative of the new undulating route, the final 3km metres were covered in 9:31 compared with the opening 3km of 8:18, and the last three kilometres turned into a war of attrition, as Tsegay took the lead just before the 9km point as he headed back up the final hill past Menelik Hospital and along the edge of Jan Meda.
Tsegay, continuing the tradition of a different man winning every year, came home four seconds clear of Adugna Tekele, with Hunegnaw Mesfin a further three seconds back.
In the women’s race, Netsanet Gudeta ran a clever tactical race which saw her overhaul long-time race leader Atsede Bayissa at the 7km point.
Bayissa stormed through the first 5km in 15:08 but could only manage 18:42 over the race’s second half as she drifed back to third. By comparison, Gudeta’s splits were 15:20 and 18:03 and she crossed the line in 33:23. Tadelech Bekele ran strongly over the final two kilometres to take second in 33:44.
Gudeta, who hails from the small town of Bekoji which has produced the likes of Kenenisa Bekele, Derartu Tulu and Tirunesh Dibaba, only requested a start number on the day before the race after deciding that her good form from her recent Coca Cola Series win in Addis Ababa back in September was still there.
Gudeta is part of a training group which also includes last year’s Great Ethiopian Run champion Aberu Kebede, Aselefech Mergia, Sule Utura and Koreni Jelila.
An estimated 30,000 runners finished the race. Kenya’s recently crowned World Marathon Majors champion Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya joined former champions Haile Gebrselassie, Tsegaye Kebede and Gebremariam Gebregziabiher in presenting the prizes.
It is to be remembered that the Great Ethiopian Run has been the first winner of the AIMS social award. AIMS(Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) had presented the award, which highlights races working towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, to the successful Ethiopian 10km race during the first AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards Gala Dinner on 8 November 2013 in Athens, Greece.
The eight Millennium Development Goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, combatting disease, decreasing child mortality, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and ensuring environmental stability.