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Wacera clinches hat-trick in San Juan

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

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.

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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.

Leading results


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

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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

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7 Monicah Ngige (KEN) 32:21

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