SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Feb 27- Kenya’s Mary Wacera successfully defended her title at the World’s Best 10k in San Juan, winning the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 31:41 on Sunday.
Compatriot Samuel Chelanga made it a Kenyan double, running 28:19 to win the men’s race by two seconds from Phillip Langat.
A lead pack of seven women passed through the first three kilometres in 9:12 with Wacera running alongside the likes of world 10,000m silver medallist Gelete Burka, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska and Kenya’s Magdalene Masai.
By the eight-kilometre mark, reached in 25:13, just three women were left out in front: Wacera, Masai and Burka. But, as was the case in 2014 and 2016, Wacera proved to have the strongest finish and she went on to win in 31:41, her fastest winning time in San Juan.
Daska overtook a fading Burka to take second place in 31:59, two seconds ahead of her compatriot.
The men’s race was even closer. Chelanga ran as part of an 11-man pack through the first three kilometres in 8:27.
Only five of those – Chelanga, Langat, Stephen Sambu, Thomas Longosiwa and Belay Tilahun – were able to maintain that pace through to the latter stages and they passed the eight-kilometre point in 22:36.
Tilahun, Longosiwa and Sambu eventually drifted back, leaving just Chelanga and Langat out in front.
Chelanga had a bit more in reserve, though, as he forged ahead to the line and won in 28:19, two seconds ahead of Langat. Sambu and Longosiwa, clocking 28:34 and 28:37 respectively, ensured that Kenyans filled the top four spots.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe was in San Juan for the annual NACAC Council meeting and so decided to enter the 10km on Sunday. The two-time Olympic gold medallist covered the distance in 48:05.
1 Samuel Chelanga (KEN) 28:19
2 Phillip Langat (KEN) 28:21
3 Stephen Sambu (KEN) 28:34
4 Thomas Longosiwa (KEN) 28:37
5 Belay Tilahun (ETH) 28:42
6 Isaac Mwangi (KEN) 28:47
7 Debeli Gezmu (ETH) 28:57
8 Ismail Juma (TAN) 28:58
1 Mary Wacera (KEN) 31:41
2 Mamitu Daska (ETH) 31:59
3 Gelete Burka (ETH) 32:01
4 Magdalene Masai (KEN) 32:06
5 Aliphine Bolton (USA) 32:11
6 Risper Gesabwa (KEN) 32:16
7 Monicah Ngige (KEN) 32:21