Alex Oloitiptip celebrates his victory at the Okpekpe 10km Road Race (© Organisers)
Alex Oloitiptip Korio and Angela Tanui emerged victorious at the Okpekpe Road Race on Saturday (16), winning the men’s and women’s races respectively to achieve the second Kenyan double in the three-year history of the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
Organisers had been hopeful that the course records – and Nigerian all-comers’ records – of 28:35 and 32:41, both set in Okpekpe last year by the Ethiopian duo of Teshome Mekonnen and Wude Ayalew, would be broken.
Those marks remained safe for another year, but Oloitiptip and Tanui were pleased that the titles returned to Kenyan athletes, following the victories by compatriots Moses Masai and Georgina Rono in 2013. They each also received $25,000 for their efforts.
Oloitiptip held off the challenge of Ethiopia’s Leul Gebresilase, who has set three PBs across various distances this year, to win by a two-second margin in 29:20.
Kenya’s Amos Mitei finished one place lower than he did last year, but still made it on to the podium, running 29:24 for third place. Contesting the ninth 10km of his career, it was the first time that he had ever finished outside the top two at the distance.
“It was a tough race,” said Oloitiptip after winning his first race since his 59:58 half-marathon victory in Azkoitia last March. “The athletes were very competitive and the weather was quite hot but I am happy I still finished No.1.”
Ethiopia’s Abebe Dinkesa, the fifth-fastest man in history over 10,000m, had hoped to challenge for a podium position, but the 31-year-old struggled with exhaustion in the tough conditions.
“I was exhausted from the heat,” he said. “I was thinking the race would start early in the morning as was stipulated in the programme.”
Tanui leads Kenyan 1-2-3
Following the podium sweep achieved by Ethiopians in last year’s race, Kenyan women achieved the same feat this year.
Tanui eventually won in 33:34, finishing comfortably ahead of 2009 world youth 3000m champion Purity Rionoripo, who crossed the line in 33:52 in what was her first 10km.
It was Tanui's third consecutive victory over 10km, having won in Marrakech and Langeux last year.
World half marathon silver medallist Mary Wacera was a distant third in 34:31.
It was the first time that Kenyan athletes had achieved a podium sweep in either the men’s or women’s races in Okpekpe.
Tunde Eludini for the IAAF