Imane Merga en route to the 26th Giro Media Blenio 10Km title (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
Merga beat Kenyans Moses Mosop, the defending champion, and Richard Matelong, the 3000m Steeplechase world silver medalist, in the final sprint. Merga crossed the finish line in 29:02 holding off Mosop and Matelong by three seconds.
A large pack initially led by local swiss runner Stephane Joly formed the front group at the end of the third lap. The group, which also featured Geoffrey Kusuro and Martin Toroitich from Uganda, Mosop, Matelong, Chengere Tolossa from Ethiopia, Simon Tesfay from Eritrea and Vasiliy Matvichuk from Ukraine, went through the third lap in 11:42. The pace got considerably faster during the fourth lap when Toroitich, Kusuro, Matelong, Merga, Matvichuk and Mosop injected a 3:38 split reaching the halfway mark in 15:20.
A trio formed by Mosop, Matelong and Merga increased the pace over the fifth lap and broke away from the rest of the field. Matelong and Mosop ran in the front closely followed by Merga who decided to run closely in third place until the last lap.
At the bell Matelong took a slight lead over Mosop clocking 22:10 after a split run in 3:27, but Merga was well in control in third place, although he never took the front for most of the race. The Ethiopian, who won the 5000m at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki in 2009, launched his attack during the last lap and edged Mosop and Matelong by three seconds. Merga added his name to the prestigious list of past winners of the Media Blenio following in the footsteps of his legendary compatriot Haile Gebrselassie who won in 1995.
“I enjoyed this race. It was my final test before the Ethiopian Championships where I will run the 5000 metres”, said Merga.
Mosop, who was looking for a second consecutive win, had to settle with second place in a close finish over Matelong. “The conditions were very bad because it was too windy but I love running here in Dongio,” said Mosop, whose will race next in the Berlin 25Km on 9 May. “Maybe I will make my debut over the marathon distance next year,” he added.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results –
1. Imane Merga Jida (Ethiopia) 29:02
2. Moses Mosop (Kenya) 29:05
3. Richard Matelong (Kenya) 29:05
4. Geoffrey Kusuro (Uganda) 29:28
5. Martin Toroitich (Uganda) 29:33
6. Vasiliy Matvichuk (Ukraine) 30:00
7. Simon Tesfay (Eritrea) 30:13
8. Chengere Tolossa (Ethiopia) 30:19
9. Slimani Kaddour (Italy) 30:28
10. Migidio Bourifa (Italy) 30:44