Meraf Bahta wins the 10,000m in Stanford (© Kirby Lee)
Australia’s Patrick Tiernan and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta smashed their personal bests to clock world-leading performances over 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Stanford, USA on Friday night (5).
With cold, breezy weather in Palo Alto, the meeting was never likely to feature many earth-shattering times but Tiernan, in particular, put some heat into a cool evening with a swift closing lap to seal victory.
In the final race of the night, the Australian hit the front with four laps remaining and controlled the pace thereafter, responding to a last-lap attack from Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed to win in 27:29.91.
Though the early pace was steady – they passed 3000m in 8:26, slower than 28-minute-pace – some early victims began to emerge shortly after halfway, with Britain’s Callum Hawkins stepping off the track shortly after passing 6000m in 16:54, at a time he was already well detached from the leading group. New Zealand’s Jake Robertson pulled up injured while still in contention with a little over 2000m to run, which left four at the front when Tiernan made his decisive move.
Ahmed surged to the front at the bell, but Tiernan followed in close pursuit, the two steadily escaping the chase of Shadrack Kipchirchir and Hassan Mead.
Ahmed still led as they turned into the home straight, but it was then that Tiernan moved wide, using every inch of his long stride to power past on the run to the line, with his winning time of 27:29.91 taking 30 seconds off his PB and coming up just five seconds shy of Ben St Lawrence’s Australian 10,000m record.
His last lap? A noteworthy 57.81 seconds.
“Being able to run that off a pretty slow pace from the start is a very good indicator,” said Tiernan, who currently trains in Philadelphia under coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “I came out here to race and take on some top competition, and it’s very encouraging to beat guys like this.”
Ahmed finished second in 27:30.00, with Kipchirchir third in 27:32 and Mead fourth in 27:34.38 – all four finishing within the World Championships qualifying standard of 27:45.
In the women’s race, Meraf Bahta carved up her out-dated 10,000m best with a run of 31:13.06, a Swedish record and a time which proved that she has ample endurance to go with her 4:01 1500m speed.
“I came from very hard training in Flagstaff, but I’m not used to running 10K,” she admitted afterwards. “Today was just some training, but I’m feeling good. It’s not my speciality – that’s more the 1500m.”
Bahta came home four seconds clear of USA’s Amy Cragg, who also secured her qualifying time for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 with a run of 31:17.20. Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase finished third in 31:25.61, with Emily Sisson fourth in 31:32.53.
In the women’s 5000m, Sifan Hassan opened her season in impressive fashion, the Dutch athlete kicking for home with 400 metres to run and clocking a 62-second last lap en route to winning in 15:13.15.
“The last 50 metres I was so tired, because I went too hard when I moved but I wanted to run the last 400 very fast,” said the world indoor 1500m champion.
Riko Matsuzaki of Japan held on for second in 15:19.91, with Lauren Paquette of the USA third in 15:20.47 and Canada’s Andrea Seccafien fourth in 15:21.64, all inside the qualifying standard of 15:22.00 for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz suffered defeat in what proved a relatively pedestrian section two of the men’s 5000m, the US runner hitting the front on the final bend but surprisingly getting outkicked by Australia’s Jack Rayner, who clocked 13:47.41 to Centrowitz’s 13:48.42. USA’s 19-year-old Drew Hunter was a close third in 13:49.56.
Section one was won by Justyn Knight in 13:17.51, the Canadian holding off the late charge of Australia’s Sam McEntee, who was runner-up in 13:17.55. Gabriel Geay was third in 13:20.35, with college star Edward Cheserek a fading fourth in 13:24.72.
Elsewhere Chrishuna Williams held off Angela Petty of New Zealand to win the women’s 800m in 2:02.58, while Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal also fended off all late challengers to win the women’s 1500m in 4:10.74.
Eric Jenkins clocked 3:38.30 to win the men’s 1500m, shortly after finishing well down the field in his section of the men’s 800m in 1:51.79.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF