Ethiopian runner Senbere Teferi won the Peachtree Road Race last year in Atlanta and was a heavy favorite to repeat this morning. And it sure looked like she would go back-to-back — before an extremely unfortunate turn of events just short of the finish line that saw Teferi follow a motorcycle off-course and keep on trucking before she could be alerted to the proper path.
As a result her sure victory evaporated into a third-place finish as Hailyu Fotyen Tesfay took the crown.
That’s a bad beat. You can imagine how confusing it would be to follow a motorcycle for the entire race and then have it just veer off seconds from the line. And it sounds like everyone involved in this incident is pretty bummed out about it.
The AJC Peachtree Road Race released a statement saying they were “disappointed” admitting that they fell short.
“As our defending champion, Senbere Teferi, was approaching the finish line, it looks like she momentarily became confused and followed a police motorcycle when it turned off the course. She was within sight of the finish banner, but we understand that in the heat of competition instructions can be misinterpreted. As an organization, we are disappointed whenever we fall short of perfection, and in this case, it appears we did.”
Tesfay was asked through a translator about those final meters and said this to CNN:
“I was really upset by Senbere’s mistake because she was in the front and she was leading, but she took that last turn,” she said. “I saw the finish line. At first I thought they didn’t really show us that well yesterday where the finish was. But after I saw that car turn, I saw the finish sign in front of me, so I pushed ahead. But I was really upset because I really planned to stick with Senbere at the finish.”
I don’t know if you can even legally bet on an annual 10K race but it seems like a stone-cold lock that Teferi is going to win next year, given her ability to best the field and what will be a laser-like focus to righting past wrongs.