Lonah Salpeter (r) takes a narrow victory at the Dam tot Damloop (© Vincent van den Boogaard/organisers)
Lonah Salpeter from Israel and Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei ran to victory at the 34th Dam tot Damloop, a ten-mile IAAF Silver Label road race from Amsterdam to Zaandam, on Sunday (23).
Salpeter, who edged Dibabe Kuma at the line, also won the gender pursuit race, the first time a woman has triumphed since 2013. In the pursuit, women start 6:04 prior to the men, the difference between the course records of 44:27 and 50:31 set respectively by Leonard Komon in 2011 and Ingrid Kristiansen in 1987.
Narrow win for Salpeter
On this first day of the northern hemisphere autumn, 46,000 participants took part in the mass event on the rainy Sunday morning. Soon a leading group of five women split off: Salpeter, Kuma, Mercyline Chelangat from Uganda, Dutchwoman Susan Krumins and Evaline Chirchir from Kenya.
They covered the first five kilometres in 15:55 but before they reached the 10-kilometre mark --the second five kilometres were covered in 15:49-- the group was reduced to four with Chirchir dropping off the pace. Soon Chelangat, who was defending her title, followed. Meanwhile, Salpeter and Kuma kept on accelerating --the next five-kilometre stretch was covered in 15:44-- forcing Krumins to drop back as well.
Kuma took the lead in the last kilometre but Salpeter, who took the European 10,000m title in August, fought back at the finish to take the narrow one-second victory in 50:45.
"This was not easy, the circumstances were difficult, but I did not want to lose, So I did not give up," said Salpeter, who was making her debut over the distance.
The home favourite Krumins, who took silver behind Salpeter in Berlin, also raced over 10 miles for the first time.
"They started fast," Krumins said. "Every time Salpeter accelerated for about 500 metres, they tried to run me off. The gap that they had at one point remained the same for a long time, but it was so cold that I could not lift my legs anymore. I tried to stay ahead of all the men, and then came Cheptegei about 400 metres from the finish. I have done everything - and did not leave anything at all."
Krumins will compete in the European Cross Championships in the Dutch city of Tilburg in December. "I have not raced in cross country since 2009. We have a super strong team with Sifan Hassan and Maureen Koster, so we have to pick up that gold team medal."
Cheptegei's successful return
A relatively slow start in the men's race --the first five-kilometre split was 14:22-- created a lead group of 13 early on, but that dwindled by 10-kilometres, when Cheptegei and Kenyan Alfred Ngeno upped the tempo, covering the second five kilometres in 13:52. The next five were nearly as quick at 13:58, but by then only Cheptegei was left in the chase for the leading women. He eventually finished 35 seconds behind Salpeter, clocking 45:15, 26 seconds clear of Ngeno.
"I was really prepared for a tough challenge," said Cheptegei, who was sidelined by a knee injury since his 5000/10,000m double at the Commonwealth Games in April. "When there was one kilometre to go I was approaching Krumins and saw the two leading ladies. Our first three kilometres were too slow, so we lost that 35 seconds and we would never catch them."
"I am happy, also because I feel that my knee injury is improving a lot. Hopefully you will see something better next year." Cheptegei confirmed that he'll begin his 2019 season at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus in March before turning his attention to the World Championships in Doha.
Eric Roeske for the IAAF
1. Joshua Cheptegei, UGA 45:15
2. Alfred Ngeno, KEN 45:41
3. Afewerki Berhane, ERI 46:04
4. Bashir Abdi, BEL 46:08
5. Rhonzas Kilimo, KEN 46.14
6. Zane Robertson, NZL 46:29
7. Ayele Abshero, ETH 46:38
8. Callum Hawkins, GBR 47:01
9. Yakoub Labquira, MAR 47:04
10. Khalid Choukoud, NED 47:06
1. Lonah Salpeter, ISR 50:45
2. Dibabe Kuma, ETH 50:46
3. Susan Krumins, NED 51:30
4. Mercyline Chelangat, UGA 52:08
5. Evaline Chirchir, KEN 52:34
6. Sarah van der Wielen, SWE 53:05
7. Ancuta Bobocel, ROU 53:42
8. Jessica Trengove, AUS 54:14
9. Jip Vastenburg, NED 54:39
10. Jill Holterman, NED 56:30