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Wacera aiming for third title in San Juan

Mary Wacera winning at the 2016 World’s Best 10K (Organisers) © Copyright

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Kenya’s Mary Wacera will be out to clinch a third title at the World’s Best 10K in San Juan which will celebrate its 20th edition on Sunday with a new course.

Created in 1998 to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Teodoro Moscoso bridge, the race will not include the iconic landmark in its course for 2017, but organisers are confident the new course will also bring fast times as in past editions.

Two-time winner and defending champion Mary Wacera leads the elite field. The 28-year-old Kenyan took the title in 2014 and was back on top again last year, when the race was contested in the morning for the first time. She went on to take bronze at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.

Ethiopia’s 2013 world 10,000m bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira is ready for a rematch. The 2015 winner finished two seconds behind Wacera in 2016.

Kenya’s 2009 world 10,000m champion Linet Masai has also shown credentials on the road and boasts a 10km PB of 30:48. She has twice made it on to the podium at the World’s Best 10k, finishing third in 2012 and 2014.

The new course will take runners from the Sixto Escobar Park to the scenic Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before they return to the same park to complete the 10km course.

For the second consecutive year, the race will also serve as the NACAC 10k Cup. Canada will feature Olympians Lanni Marchant and Eric Gillis, while the top local runners will be Olympian Beverly Ramos and Mizael Carrera. Ramos has topped the national runners a record six times and Carrera on three occasions.

With IAAF President Sebastian Coe attending the annual NACAC Council in San Juan Friday and Saturday, the two-time Olympic champion is also expected to run the 10km on Sunday.

Created in 1998, the San Juan World’s Best became international in 2000. Some of the world’s best long distance athletes have added prestige to the race, one of the two races in Latin America to be awarded the IAAF Gold Label status.

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The most decorated athletes have been Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands, who took six titles (2001 and 2004-2008) and five-time winner Kenyan Sammy KItwara (2009, 2011 and 2013-2015). Paula Radcliffe won twice in 2002 and 2003. She took her second victory in world record setting form of 30:21, still unbeatable since then.

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