He’d never before won a race, and it was only his second marathon. But on Sunday, Italian runner Eyob Gebrehiwet had a stroke of luck.
Gebrehiwet was trailing the lead pack just over the 13.1 mile mark in the Venice Marathon, according to the report by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Those runners were following a motorcycle, which was guiding them along the course.
But then the motorcycle took a wrong turn, leading the former leaders off course. By the time the runners realized the mistake and turned around to rejoin the race on the proper course, they were a minute behind the new lead pack, according to the IAAF.
This allowed Gebrehiwet to dominate the new group. Near the 25-mile mark, he was two minutes ahead of his closest challenger, Muhammed Mussa of Eritrea. Gebrehiwet finished the race in a personal record best 2:12:16, about three minutes faster than his last marathon. He runs for the Venice Marathon Club.
“On the eve of the race I felt pressure but I managed to stay calm as I knew that I had worked well,” said Gebrehiwet, according to IAAF. “I dedicate the win to myself as I have always believed in my work despite all the difficulties.”
Gebrehiwet, who is of Eritrean origin, is the first Italian to win the race since 1995, the IAAF said.