NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29 – World champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya will be the woman to beat when world-class athletes line-up at the Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana 10km run on New Year’s Eve.
It will be exactly one year after race records were shattered at this World Athletics Gold Label road race.
At the 2018 edition, Jacob Kiplimo and Brigid Kosgei produced spectacular performances as they sped to 26:41 and 29:54 course records.
The downhill nature of the course (5.5m per kilometre) meant that Kiplimo’s performance couldn’t count as a world record, but was still a notable run as it took 13 seconds off the previous race record set by Eliud Kipchoge back in 2006. For her part, Kosgei obliterated Gelete Burka’s previous course record by a full minute.
This year, Turkey’s Aras Kaya, fresh from a silver medal at the European Cross-Country Championships three weeks ago, should be tipped as one of the favourites.
The 25-year-old is an accomplished cross-country runner, with the 2016 European title and the 2018 bronze medal under his belt. He has not raced over 10km on the road yet but has a 27:48.53 personal best on the track.
The Ugandan contingent will be headed by Mande Bushendich, 22, who finished third last year in 27:24. His set his 10km season’s best of 27:56 in Brunssum in March.
He’ll be joined by compatriot Moses Kurong, who brings 59:50 half-marathon credentials to the line. While his quickest time on the track is 27:22.33, the 25-year-old has yet to dip under 28 minutes on the roads.
A third Ugandan in contention will be Boniface Sikowo, a 3000m steeplechase specialist with a 8:25.91 career best, who’ll be making his 10km debut. The 20-year-old competed at the World Championships in October but didn’t advance to the final.
The in-form Belgian Bashir Abdi will also be a factor. The 30-year-old broke the Belgian marathon record in Chicago in October clocking 2:06:14. Abdi set a 15km PB of 42:29 in Heerenberg earlier this month and has a 27:36.40 career best on the track.
Toni Abadía, Fernando Carro, and Abdessadam Oukhelfen will carry Spanish hopes for a top-five finish. Abadía finshed third here three times (2014/2016/2017) and holds the Spanish 10km road record of 27:48.
Carro is the Spanish 3000m steeplechase record holder thanks to an 8:05.69 performance in Monaco last July while Oukhelfen, 21, arrives on the heels of bronze medal in the U23 race at the European Cross Country Championships.
Chepngetich – Tola showdown in women’s race
Chepngetich will start as the woman to beat. The reigning world marathon champion is enjoying a brilliant 2019 after opening with an impressive 2:17:08 win in Dubai which places her fourth on the all-time world list. She then kept on with several half marathon victories topped by a 1:05:29 effort in Istanbul on 7 April.
Tuesday’s will be the 25-year-old’s first outing since her Doha triumph, and she’ll be keen to improve her 31:12 personal best.
She’ll face stiff opposition from Ethiopia’s Helen Bekele Tola, who smashed her 10km best with a 30:47 run in Lausanne on 27 October. The 25-year-old has shown fine consistency over the marathon distance this year, clocking a 2:21:01 PB for second in Tokyo in March and 2:21:36 for fourth in Berlin in September.