Kenya’s Leonard Komon and Linet Masai fulfilled their roles as favourites for the 49th edition of Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, with impressive and irresistible wins over the 10km course on Tuesday (31).
They notched up the first wins for Kenya in possibly the most famous New Year’s Eve race in the world since Moses Masai, Linet Masai’s brother, and Vivian Cheruiyot took the honours in 2009.
Komon, the world record holder at both the 10 and 15km on the roads, went to the front almost from the gun, with the runners getting underway alongside Real Madrid’s famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
He built up an imposing lead of 12 seconds over the rest of his rivals at the first 2.5km checkpoint and then just kept on pressing, passing 5km in 13.41 with a big chasing pack of almost 20 men who were now 43 seconds in arrears.
Komon’s advantage had stretched to almost a minute at 7.5km, which he reached in 20.11.
The chasers, led by Spain’s Javier Guerra, was now down to seven men and they passed that mark in 21:08 but nothing could stop Komon and he crossed the line in the stadium of another Spanish first division football club Rayo Vallecano in 28:03.
“I was a bit surprised as no-one dared to follow me after the first kilometre,” confessed Komon.
“Despite being the 10km and 15km world record holder, my favourite surface is still cross country, and then the road. But, with no World Cross Country Championships in 2014, I will seriously tackle the half marathon this year as a step towards moving to the marathon in the years to come,” he added, although his plans concerning the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen on 29 March are still undecided.
Behind the winner, Spain’s two time SPAR European Cross Country Championships silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem picked up his third San Silvestre Vallecana second place in the last four years.
Lamdassem pulled away from Roberto Alaiz and Guerra in the last kilometre to finish in 29:06, with Alaiz four seconds in arrears and Guerra another second further back.
Masai follows in the footsteps of her brother Moses
Masai, the 2009 IAAF World Championships 10,000m and second in the San Silvestre Vallecana 12 months ago, was almost as emphatic a winner as Komon.
She had a five seconds lead over a three-woman group consisting of her sister Magdalene Masai as well her as fellow Kenyan Rita Jeptoo and Morocco’s Malika Asahssah.
Masai went through 5km in 15:24 with Jeptoo second in 15:30 and Asahssah four seconds further back.
At 7.5km, Masai’s lead had stretched to 16 seconds as she and Jeptoo went through that checkpoint in 22:41 and 22:57 respectively.
In similar fashion to Komon, Masai kept the tempo high in the final 2.5km stretch on the point-to-point course to deny her rivals any chance of getting back to her and she finished in 31:34. The winner's next outing will be the IAAF Cross Country Permit race in San Giorgio Su Legnano, the 57th Campaccio event, on 6 January.
Asahssah came through strongly to overtake Jeptoo close to home and finish second in 31:58 with this year’s Chicago Marathon winner just caught a little short for speed over the shorter distance and finishing two seconds further back.
An estimated 39,000 runners took part in the mass run over the same course some two hours before the elite race, with approximately 40% of the participants being women.
Emeterio Valiente and Phil Minshull for the IAAF