New Year's fun - covered in shaving cream, Eliud Kipchoge en route to his sizzling 26:54 in Madrid (© Negami)
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge claimed a brilliant win at the ‘San Silvestre Vallecana’, a 10km road race held on New Year’s eve (31 Dec), to smash his own year-old course record by a massive 40-second margin.
Kipchoge’s time of 26:54 is eight seconds faster than Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie’s current world 10Km World record of 27:02 set in Doha four years ago, but the Kenyan had the benefit of a downhill circuit (705m of altitude at the start, a lowest point of 610 at the eight kilometre and an uphill final two kilometres to conclude at 650m).
Despite Kipchoge’s awesome clocking he had to do his very best to hold off the challenge of Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadesse, as the World 20km champion was also timed 26:54 while Australia’s reigning World 5000m bronze medallist finished third some 45 seconds adrift the leaders in 27:39.
Kipchoge carves out race
It was with hardly one minute on the clock that Kipchoge first took command of the race and he set such a frantic pace that by the 2.5 kilometres only Tadesse and Mottram managed to stay at his shoulder with Portugal’s Rui Silva and the Spanish duo of Chema Martínez and Jesús España unable to follow in the leaders’ footsteps.
Kipchoge and Tadesse took turns at the front clearly aiming to run the legs off the Australian, who ran with a bib reading ‘Buster’. The third kilo was covered in 8:03 and before the 4000m point the 22-year-old Kenyan stepped up the pace to build a short gap over Mottram and Tadesse and went through the halfway point (5000m) in a more than brisk 13:16. Shortly before the sixth kilo Tadesse caught Kipchoge, while Mottram began to fade and the race became an African tussle. For much of the remaining four kilometres it was Kipchoge who maintain the head but Tadesse stayed in hot pursuit. Finally, the Kenyan romped home in 26:54 keeping at bay Tadesse who was given the same time although Kipchoge’s win never seemed to be in jeopardy.
The Kenyan took revenge on Mottram who had defeated him last 30 September in Newcastle-South Shields when the Aussie recorded a new World road best performance for 3Km clocking 7:41.7 to Kipchoge’s 7:43.1.
“Wow, 26:54,” said Kipchoge, who dedicated his victory and performance to his two-month old daughter. “I’ve been training hard in Kenya in the last months and I knew I was in good shape. The atmosphere is fantastic here in Madrid and the crowd supports the athletes a lot. I’ll next race in the Edinburgh Cross Country (13 Jan), then prepare for the World Cross Country Championships and for the summer I’ll keep focused on the 5000m event.”
As for the Madrid-based Tadesse, the 24-year-old Eritrean fell barely 17 seconds shy of his impressive 26:37.25 clocking he established on the track in Brussels last 25 August. Tadesse arrived in Madrid last Monday 26 December after a two-week stay (11-26 December) in Eritrea for Christmas. Spain’s European 10,000m silver medallist Chema Martínez and 5000m champion Jesús España shook hands in the home straight to romp home together for the delight of the crowd, some 1:26 adrift of the leaders while Portugal’s reigning Olympic and World 1500m bronze medallist finished sixth slightly outside the 29 minute barrier and declared his intention of fighting for the 3000m medals at next March’s European Indoor Championships in Birmingham, as also did España.
On the women’s side Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka posted a fine win thanks to a 31:27 performance and a handsome margin of 41 seconds over Australia’s Benita Willis-Johnson (32:08) while Spain’s reigning European 5000m champion Marta Domínguez completed a classy top-three in 33:15. The twice (2005 & 2006) New York Marathon victor Prokopcuka bettered her 31:51 clocking from one year ago and ranked 26th overall. She managed to drop Johnson (40th overall) in the sixth kilometre and from then on the 30-year-old ran alone.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Eliud Kipchoge (Ken) 26:54
2. Zersenay Tadesse (Eri) 26:54
3. Craig Mottram (Aus) 27:39
4. Chema Martínez (Esp) 28:19
5. Jesús España (Esp) 28:20
6. Rui Silva (Por) 29:04
7. Dan Browne (Usa) 29:12
8. Andrew Letherby (Aus) 29:17
9. Juan Carlos Higuero (Esp) 29:41
10. Terence Doherty (Usa) 29:43
1. Jelena Prokopcuka (Lat) 31:27
2. Benita Willis-Johnson (Aus) 32:08
3. Marta Domínguez (Esp) 33:15
4. María Abel (Esp) 33:33