Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam, the reigning World Cross Country bronze medallist grabbed a thrilling sprint victory at the '49th Cross Internacional de San Sebastián' held today on the racehorse of Lasarte.
Gebremariam beat Kenya's Patrick Ivuti the man who had beaten him to the World silver medal in Lausanne, with last year's San Sebastian winner Eritrea's Tadese Zersenay in third.
Lost shoe in the mud
Gebremariam's victory was especially noteworthy as the 19-year-old lost his right shoe in the mud in the third kilometre and lost some 60m on the leading group which comprised all the hot favourites.
Without the Ethiopian, Ivuti made most of the front running with Zersenay, Uganda's Boniface Kiprop and Tanzania's Fabian Joseph in close attendance.
Gebremariam was in hot pursuit for three kilometres and with 17 minutes on the clock he rejoined the leading pack to the delight of the crowd which cheered him. Shortly afterwards Joseph lost ground and Ivuti's swift pace also meant that Kiprop dropped back too before the eighth kilometre. So the race became a three-way battle between Ivuti, Gebremariam and Zersenay.
Entering the last kilometre the Madrid-based Zersenay was also dropped and so another Ethiopia versus Kenya battle unfolded in the guise of Gebremariam and Ivuti. With 200m to go it was the Ethiopian who surged strongly to end as the decisive winner three seconds ahead of Ivuti, while Zersenay was another five seconds behind home.
"Today's will be an unforgettable win for me. When I got in touch again I realised that I could be the winner. After my Spanish tour I return now to Ethiopia to be ready for the trials" confirmed an elated Gebremariam.
Runner-up Ivuti said: "I pushed hard all the way but I wasn't able to win. Anyway I'm happy with my performance today as I started training late this season due to an injury in my right leg but I'll be at my peak when it really matters at the Worlds in Brussels to contest the long race" concluded Ivuti.
Inzikuru captures women's win
In the women's race 21-year-old Ugandan Dorcus Inzikuru captured a massive win from Portugal's Analia Rosa.
From the gun the event was a matter of just three runners, Inzikuru, Rosa and Kenya's Rahab Ndungu. Yet Inzikuru's front running paid off soon and the Kenyan faded before halfway and it was just before the fifth kilometre that Inzikuru also dropped Rosa with ease and romped home 13 seconds clear of the Portuguese, while Ndungu came third 28 seconds adrift the Ugandan.
Inzikuru, who was fourth at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the 5000m said: "I was not sure of winning before the race but once the race developed I felt fine and pushed hard to leave the others. I'm delighted with my win as I had been second in Italy last week and fourth in Belfast ealier this month. The crowd today was fantastic and I hope to comeback next year; I'll probably contest the short race at the Worlds in Brussels".
Kenya's Sally Barsosio was a late withdrawal since she was not able to get a visa.
Men (10,000m course)
1 Gebre Gebremariam (Eth) 30:48
2 Patrick Ivuti (Ken) 30:51
3 Tadese Zersenay (Eri) 30:56
4 Boniface Kiprop (Uga) 31:17
5 Fabian Joseph (Tan) 31:56
6 Ramiro Morán (Esp) 32:17
7 Ketema Negussie (Eth) 32:18
8 Vicente Capitán (Esp) 32:22
9 Alejandro Gómez (Esp) 32:27
10 Younes El Mustafa (Mar) 32:34
Women (5624m course)
1 Dorcus Inzikuru (Uga) 19:45
2 Analia Rosa (Por) 19:58
3 Rahab Ndungu (Ken) 20:13
4 Helena Sampaio (Por) 20:36
5 Silvia Montane (Esp) 20:51
6 Marina Bastos (Por) 21:17
7 Iratxe Aramburu (Esp) 21:25
8 Susan Partridge (Gbr) 21:54
9 María Abel (Esp) 22:12
10 Rosa Talavera (Esp) 22:20