Tariku Bekele (225) en route to victory through the Sao Paulo rain (Sérgio Shibuya/organisers) © Copyright
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T. Bekele and Jeptoo beat the Sao Paulo New Year’s Eve rain

Ethiopian Tariku Bekele and Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo were the winners at the 87th edition of the traditional “Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre” held in the streets of São Paulo on Saturday (31). Held each New Year’s Eve, this traditional Brazilian road race commemorates the end of the year.

On a new course, but still with the 15Km distance, Bekele dominated the field crossing the finish line in 43:35. Jeptoo’s time was 48:48, a new record for the event over the new course.

Held in the middle of a torrential storm, the 24-year-old Bekele – younger brother of the long-distance king Kenenisa – was able to shake the peloton off at the seventh kilometre, at the Avenue Rio Branco. From that point Bekele controlled the race until its end.

“I was able to put my plan in place,” explained Bekele. “I wanted to push hard after the sixth kilometre, and the rain didn’t bother me at all. My experience as a track athlete gave me the edge over people who come from the Marathon, such as Kisorio and Lel. All the training I’m putting in for the World Indoor Championships along with Kenenisa also helped me. I’m hoping this victory will be a good motivation for both of us.”

Brazilians were expecting a fourth victory for local hero Marílson dos Santos (two-time winner of the New York City Marathon), but the 34-year-old only managed to finish in eight place – also beat by compatriot Damião de Souza who was seventh.

Jeptoo prevails in a tight battle

Italian Nadia Ejjafini lead the women’s race at its first stages, up to the “Estádio Pacembu”, around the fifth kilometre. At the point of the Avenida Rudge (eight kilometres) Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo and Ethiopian Ayalew Wude grabbed control setting a strong pace in spite of the heavy rains.

The 24-year-old Wude, winner of the São Silvestre in 2008, made a move at the uphill of Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, but Jeptoo covered it without a problem. With the rest of the pack well behind, the race was decided in the final straight, at the Obelisco, with Jeptoo prevailing over Wude by four seconds.

“I’m very happy with the victory”, said the 27-year-old Jeptoo, silver medallist in the Marathon at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu. “The São Silvestre is among the world’s best road races, and now I want to return to win my second title. The only thing I wish would be not to face rain again. I had never seen a storm like this.”

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF

Leading Results:

87th “Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre” – São Paulo, 31 December 2011 – 15Km –


1. Tariku Bekele, ETH 43:35

2. Mark Korir, KEN 43:58

3. Matthew Kisorio, KEN 44:12

4. Martin Lel, KEN 44:28

5. Najin El Qady, MAR 44:32

6. Barnabas Kiplagat Kosgei, KEN 44:45

7. Damião Ancelmo de Souza, BRA 44:53

8. Marílson Gomes dos Santos, BRA 45:06

9. Rui Pedro Sá Alves, BRA 45:45

10. João Ferreira de Lima, BRA 46:00


1. Priscah Jeptoo, KEN 48:48

2. Ayelew Wude, ETH 48:52

3. Eunice Kirwa, KEN 50:58

4. Nadia Ejjafini, ITA 51:19

5. Rumokol Elizabeth Chepkanan, KEN 51:44

6. Cruz Nonata da Silva, BRA 51:59

7. Jackline Juma Sakilu, TAN 52:07

8 Adriana Aparecida da Silva, BRA 52:15

9. Sueli Pereira, BRA 53:32

10. Samira Raif, MAR 53:40