Fotyen Tesfay won The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race’s women’s elite division Tuesday with a time of 30:43.
Tesfay, from Ethiopia, is a first-time AJC Peachtree Road Race winner. She upset heavy favorite and defending champion Senbere Teferi, who led much of the race before making a wrong turn in the final sprint.
“The last meters went by really fast, and it was really exciting,” Tesfay said through an interpreter. “Time was going by really fast, so I just had to push myself harder. There was a bit of an issue when I was trying to stick with Senbere and she took the wrong turn, and that was almost confusing for me, but it was good to finish the race strong and finish fast.”
Later, race officials tweeted a statement about the finish.
“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.”
It was Tesfay’s first time competing in the event.
“I really enjoyed being here,” Tesfay said. “... Winning was very exciting, and I really loved the conditions that I ran in. It was very warm, and it was just a good experience overall.”
Teferi won last year’s race after a sprint to the finish. On Tuesday, she said she was hoping to improve on last year’s time and potentially set a course record. She was not on pace to do so before the wrong turn, in part because of the 90% humidity, but she was ahead of Tesfay and second-place finisher Jesca Chengalat. Teferi finished in third, four seconds behind Tesfay.
Annie Frisbie was the top U.S. finisher. Frisbie, a Minnesota native, finished 14th in 32:19. She finished 10th in the AJC Peachtree Road Race in 2022.
“My times aren’t necessarily getting slower, but the competition is definitely getting better,” Frisbie said. “But it pushes me to be better, too.”
She said the high humidity was a challenge, but the biggest challenge was having patience.
“Pretty downhill first half (of the race), I think it’s easy to get a little excited,” Frisbie said. “I definitely found myself doing that today. Got a little too excited the first half. And just making sure you still have some energy in the second half, especially at that Mile 3 hill.”
Roswell native Emma Grace Hurley finished just behind Frisbie in 15th. She ran a 32:27, a full minute faster than last year.
The AJC Peachtree Road Race is the world’s largest 10K race. Over 50,000 people were expected to compete this year.