Birhanu Legese winning the Dam tot Damloop (© Organisers)
Birhanu Legese and Mercyline Chelangat were the clear and proud winners of the Dam tot Damloop, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, that covers the 10 mile distance between the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Zaandam, on Sunday (17).
Edwin Kiptoo was the favourite in the men’s field, the 24-year-old Kenyan who won the race’s last two editions, in 2015 with a 45:19 personal best. Kiptoo was at the front of the leading group of seven for more than 10 kilometres. All eyes were on him.
“I asked the others to take over several times, but they decided to wait and see,” he said. Kiptoo eventually finished fourth but wasn’t too disappointed. “In four weeks I will have my debut in the marathon in Amsterdam, so I did a lot of endurance training as preparation and I haven’t the speed that I had in the last two years.”
So the podium in the Damloop went to the athletes who waited until the last three kilometres with 23-year-old Birhanu Legese prevailing. Propelled by his solid track speed --the Ethiopian clocked 13:26 at the Athletissima in Lausanne and 13:24 at Zurich’s Weltklasse this season-- cruised to victory in 45:38.
“I knew that I could rely on my speed and I was confident that I could win this race,” said Legese, who will now be looking to see how that speed translates to a half marathon.
Yenew Alamirev was second in 45:45 with Jiks Tadesse third in 45:51, two seconds clear of defending champion Kiptoo. Khalid Choukoud was the first Dutch athlete, finishing 11th in 47:28.
It’s tradition that the women start 6:04 before the men, the difference between the men’s and women’s course records. The men’s mark of 44:27 was set by Leonard Komon in 2011 while the women’s record of 50:31 was set by Ingrid Kristiansen at the race’s third edition in 1987.
In previous years the overall winners weren’t decided until the waning stages, but this year the women proved easy prey for the men, thanks to sluggish early pacing with the women’s leaders reaching 10 kilometers in 33:20 compared to 28:20 for the leading men. The men’s lead group made up the gap some five kilometres before the finish, leaving the women the forge on on their own.
Mercyline Chelangat, who finished 13th in the 10,000m at the World Championships in London last month and 12th at the World Cross Championships in March, prevailed to take the victory in 53:08.
“It was a bit difficult with the bridges and the big tunnel in the beginning of the race, but at 10-k I knew I could win here,’ she said. Chelangat said she’ll contest some more road races over the next couple of months and believes that her future lies over the marathon later in her career.
Sofia Assefa was second five seconds back with Risa Takenaka third in 53:18. Further back Mimi Belete was fourth in 53:33 with former steeplechaser Ancuta Bobocel fifth in 53:35.
Jip Vastenburg, who was injured during the summer season and missed the World Championships in London, was the fastest Dutch women in the race in 54:02 to finish eighth overall. Susan Krumins, the clear domestic favourite, was forced to withdraw just prior to the start do to a slight injury.
More than 45,000 runners finished his famous Dutch race which was first held in 1985.
Cors van den Brink for the IAAF