Ethiopian rising star Muktar Edris, the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championship 5000m gold medallist and third in the junior race at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships eight days ago, claimed victory at the 29th edition of the Media Blenio 10km road race in Dongio, Switzerland, on Monday (1).
Edris clocked 28:10 at the traditional race in the small village in the Italian-speaking region of Canton Ticino, beating his compatriot Imane Merga, 2011 World Cross Country champion and silver medallist this year Bydgoszcz, by 13 seconds.
The race is run over eight laps of 1.25km around the streets of Dongio.
In the early stages of the race, Edris went to the front of a leading group which was formed by himself, Merga and a trio of Kenyans: Kiprop Limo, Thomas Longosiwa and Wilson Kebenei who completed the first lap in 3:52.
Kiprop Limo lead through the second lap in 7:19, closely chased by Kebenei, Merga, Longosiwa and Edris in that order.
Limo, Longosiwa and Merga continued to push at the front as the third lap was completed in 10:52 before Edris threw down the gauntlet just before the half way point, breaking away from Merga and Limo.
The teenager changed gear during the fourth lap and left Merga having to work hard to keep contact before passing the halfway mark in 14:23. By this stage, Limo was alone in third place two seconds behind Merga.
Merga managed to keep up with his younger compatriot for another two kilometres until the sixth lap when Edris opened up a gap of two seconds with two laps to go. He then pushed the pace and increased his advantage to nine seconds with his second surge during the penultimate lap and continued to pull away over the final kilometre.
Merga, who won the Media Blenio twice in a row in 2010 and 2011, had to settle for second place on this occasion with 28:23. Kiprop Limo, winner at the Stramilano Half Marathon in rainy conditions and a 59:56 half marathon runner, took third in 28:34 ahead of London 2012 Olympic Games 5000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa.
Edris won the Campaccio, Villa Lagarina and the Cinque Mulini Cross Country races in Italy during January and February and has now added his name to the prestigious list of past winners of the race in Dongio which includes: Haile Gebrselassie (1995), Paul Tergat (1996 and 1997), Paul Koech (1998), Richard Limo (2004), Edwin Soi (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2012) and Moses Mosop (2009).
The tradition of the Media Blenio in Dongio started in 1985 to celebrate the Olympic 5000m silver medal won by Swiss distance running star Markus Ryffel in Los Angeles the year before.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Muktar Edris (ETH) 28:10
2. Imane Merga (ETH) 28:23
3. Kiprop Limo (KEN) 28:34
4. Thomas Longosiwa (KEN) 28:44
5. Wilson Kebenei (KEN) 28:47
6. Ruben Limaa (KEN) 28:55