NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 1 -The anticipated clash between Kenya’s world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and Ethiopia’s Helen Bekele Tola at the Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana 10km run didn’t disappoint.
Sandwiched between a large pack of men, the two women were evenly matched for the first three kilometres which they covered in 8:56, clearly ahead of Portugal’s Carla Salomé Rocha (9:20) and Uganda’s late addition to the field Juliet Chekwel (9:24),
Chepngetich, who had declared at the pre-race press conference that she was not yet in the same kind of form which led her to the gold medal in Doha, could not follow in the Ethiopian’s footsteps before reaching halfway (14:50 vs 14:54); by then Rocha kept her four-second margin on the Ugandan (15:29/15:33).
In the second half, 25-year-old Tola managed to extend her lead to eight seconds with about two kilometres to go while Rocha also widened her advantage on Chekwel to another eight seconds.
Tola confirmed her supremacy during the uphill closing section and romped home in 30:50, the fourth fastest time ever recorded at this race. Meanwhile, Rocha completed the podium more than a minute behind the winner (31:52) but 21 seconds clear of Chekwel.
“I have beaten the recent world champion and that’s great for me,” said Tola, who is based in Geneva where she is coached by Tesfaye Eticha. “I feel in great shape and look forward to running under 2:20 in Tokyo in March.”
1 Helen Bekele Tola (ETH) 30:50
2 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 30:57
3 Carla Salomé Rocha (POR) 31:52
4 Juliet Chekwel (UGA) 32:13
5 Sara Catarina Ribeiro (POR) 32:29
1 Bashir Abdi (BEL) 27:47
2 Mande Bushendich (UGA) 27:51
3 Toni Abadía (ESP) 27:56
4 Boniface Sikowo (UGA) 28:04
5 Hamid Ben Daoud (ESP) 28:06