Emebet Bacha nearly catches Julius Kiptoo in Ottawa's gender challenge (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
General News 25 May 2008 – Ottawa, Canada

Fighting the winds, Kiptoo takes Ottawa 10km

Ottawa, CanadaRace director John Halvorsen set the course record of 28:12 in Ottawa’s MDS Nordion 10km race exactly twenty years ago and each year he and elite athlete coordinator Manny Rodrigues have wished to see the record broken.

Yet again the record has survived.

Julius Kiptoo of Kenya won Saturday's (24) IAAF Silver Label race in a time of 28:37.0 ahead of compatriot Samuel Ndereba who finished in 28:53.9. Moses Macharia also of Kenya was third in 29:03.5 as the windy conditions put paid to any record attempt.

Pre-race favourite, Moses Kigen was a non starter having offered his services as a pacemaker in the following day’s Marathon after three of the hired guns turned up injured.

Kiptoo’s biggest competition turned out to be Emebet Bacha of Ethiopia who ended up winning the women’s race in 32:42.1 That’s because the women’s field was given a head start of 4:05 in an effort to have a challenge between the genders.  A US $5000 prize was on tap for the overall winner and it was a very close finish in addition to $5000 first place in their respective races.

A crowd numbering in the thousands cheered Bacha on as she approached the finish knowing  Kiptoo had her in his sights for the last kilometre. He had wisely sheltered himself behind Moses Macharia as the runners turned into the strong headwind over the final 4 kilometres and then broke away with a kilometre remaining.

As Kiptoo sneaked past no more than a metre from the finish the Ethiopian threw her arms up in despair. Still she leaves the Canadian capital with $5000 for winning the women’s race.

The 30-year-old Kiptoo was a very late addition to the field literally, having arrived only the night before from Kenya with layovers in London and Montreal. He ran within the pack passing 5km in 14:19 biding his time - suffering, as he was, from jet lag.

“In London I stayed for 12 hours in the airport and then flew to Montreal,” he revealed with a wide grin, “I arrived here last night.  I am tired. But I meant to be here and I am very happy to win.”

“This is my first time (in Ottawa). The course is very nice but it was very windy coming this way. If there would have been many people together we could have somehow broken the record. Unfortunately it was windy.”

Kiptoo lives and trains in Iten and has been a strong competitor for more than a decade. He represented Kenya at the 2008 African Championships having won the trials in a superb 28:26.98 in Nairobi’s thin air.

“I know the other (competitors) very well,” he added. “I was confident and I am very happy to win it. Because I was training very well in Kenya and I am very strong. I train with guys like Brimin, Kipchoge and some young guys like Isaac Songok.”

Monday he will fly home to prepare for the Kenyan Olympic trials.

“In Kenya it is very hard (to make the Olympic team),” he says. “I will try. Who knows, it might be my day!”

Second and third in the women’s race went to Poland’s Dorota Gruca and Hyvon Ngetich of Kenya respectively.

Paul Gains for the IAAF