Belaynesh Oljira wins the Carrera de la Mujer (© Organisers)
The 2015 edition of the Carrera de la Mujer, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race held over 10km in Bogota, proved to be almost a repeat of the year before, with Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira powering away from Kenya’s Veronica Nyaruai in the final 1200m of the race.
Oljira’s winning time of 33:57 was just five seconds slower than the course record she established last year. But if the result of the race was similar, the development of it was not.
Under cloudy skies and with temperatures a near ideal 15C, no one wanted to lead from the gun. So a group of 13, consisting of all the foreign entrants and two of Colombia’s best runners, meandered through the first two kilometres in 7:00, far slower than last year.
But shortly after the 2km mark, Nyaruai – winner of this race in 2012 when it was held over 12km – took the initiative and considerably upped the tempo. By the 3km mark, there were just three runners together at the front – Nyaruai pushing, with defending champion Oljira tucked in behind along with her fellow Ethiopian Buze Diriba.
The three were together through 5km, when Nyaruai began weaving and gesturing to try to get one of her shadowing Ethiopian rivals to take the lead. When they didn’t, she surged again, this effort being enough to drop Diriba, but not Oljira, who moved up on to Nyaruai’s shoulder and began a push of her own.
The result seemed in doubt until just before the 9km mark, when a final push by Oljira saw her break free and open a gap of 50 metres that she held down the long finish straight.
Approaching the finish line in second, Nyaruai started clutching at her side and, crossing the start line timing mats – some 10 metres from the actual finish – came to a halt and doubled up in pain. Diriba was finishing fast in third, and it was only the screams of the crowd that warned Nyaruai that she hadn’t actually finished, and she was able to summon the effort to cross the actual finish line in 34:31, a bare second ahead of Diriba.
USA’s Janet Cherobon-Bawcom took fourth in 34:40, and, in a hugely popular upset, Colombian Angie Orjuela took fifth place in 35:48, ahead of many of the more highly favoured foreign athletes.
One of the largest all-women’s races in the world, this year’s Carrera de la Mujer had 17,000 entrants in the 10km, and 5000 more in the couples run 5km and mothers and babies run 2km that were held before the main event.
Derek Froude for the IAAF
1 Belaynesh Oljira (ETH) 33:57
2 Veronicah Nyaruai (KEN) 34:31
3 Buze Diriba (ETH) 34:32
4 Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (USA) 34:41
5 Angie Orjuela (COL) 35:49
6 Sarah Jeriwoi Kiptoo (KEN) 36:21
7 Misiker Mekonen Demise (ETH) 36:56
8 Alice Serser Milgo (KEN) 37:05
9 Rocio Cantara (PER) 37:09
10 Sandra Marcela Rosas (COL) 37:23