Eight months after her impressive Half Marathon victory in Newcastle, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba put in another commanding performance on British roads and won the Bupa Great Manchester Run over 10km with a world-leading time of 30:49 on Sunday (26).
Into the bargain, the three-time Olympic champion also bagged a course record at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race, and a personal best.
Dibaba is now the 11th fastest runner ever at the distance but there is surely much more to come from her as she started the race slowly, in her own words ‘warming up’ during the first half of the race.
During the first kilometre, in perfect weather conditions with gentle sunshine and hardly any wind, the Ethiopian stayed just behind her rivals in the leading pack but then soon took off on her own.
“I started slow because there was a slight wind at first and I felt I need to warm-up,” explained Diabab, who had missed her planned Marathon debut in London because of a shin injury. “It is fine now, I had no problems,” she added, confirming the obvious to anyone who watched the race.
Passing the 5km mark in 15:40, Dibaba was already 38 seconds ahead of the chasing group before she started going through the gears
She covered the second half of the race in a spectacular 15:09, a pace good enough to one day potentially break Paula Radcliffe’s World record of 30:21
“It was not my plan to attack the (World) record today but today’s race gives me a boost for the future,” explained Dibaba.
She improved the course record by 18 seconds, a mark which had stood to her compatriot Berhane Adere at 31:07 since 2006, and clocking the first time below 31 minutes this year.
“I am happy with my time today since I am training for the track season now,” she added.
Dibaba will run the 5000m in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene next week, her first outing over the distance since she failed to retain her Olympic title and finished third in London last summer, the race coming in the wake of her successful defence of her Olympic 10000m crown.
“Regarding the World Championships I definitely want to run the 10000. As for a possible double with the 5000, I have not decided about this.”
“Tirunesh is a great runner. I was surprised she started very slow. But then she went to the front,” said Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka, who secured second place with 32:21 after breaking away two kilometres from the finish.
French Marathon record holder Christelle Daunay was third in 32:33 after recovering from a fall early in the race. The first British runner home was Gemma Steel in fourth with 33:02.
Kipsiro fulfils a dream
The men’s race saw a sprint finish in which Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro edged out Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang.
Kipsiro crossed the line in 27:52 and was just one second ahead of Kipsang. However, getting the biggest cheers of the day, even more so than the two men in front of him, was the Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie.
Now 40, Gebrselassie came home in 28:00, which is an over-40 World best by almost a minute. Portugal’s Paulo Catarino held the previous record with a time of 28:51 in 2003.
It was Gebrselassie who lead the leading group through the 5km in 14:08 with Kipsang and Kipsiro alongside him and South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka and Ukraine’s Serhiy Lebid running just behind the leading trio.
Lebid was the first to drop away after 6km as Gebrselassie worked hard to keep the pace fast. Mokoka then lost contact a kilometre later.
“I tried to get away, but it was not possible, because the other two were very strong,” said Gebrselassie.
“I knew I would not have a strong enough kick at the end. The problem for me nowadays is not about endurance but about speed for a kick,” said the five-time winner in this race, after letting his two rivals escape in the final kilometre.
Kipsang took the lead as the they trip started the last kilometre and managed to drop Gebrselassie but Kipsiro wasn’t going to throw in the towel and, with 150 metres to go, he passed Kipsang clinch the victory and improve his personal best by two seconds.
“Back in 1992 and 1993, when I was a child, I heard about Haile Gebrselassie. Since then it had always been my dream to run against him one day. He is such a great runner. It was amazing to run with him today,” said Kipsiro, who had never been in a race with the Ethiopian before.
“My plan was to try to stay with Haile and Wilson Kipsang because I knew I would have good speed for the final kick,” added the winner.
Behind the leading trio, the next men home were by Mokoka in 28:12 and then Lebid in 28:28 on a day which saw an estimated 40,000 runners take part in the event.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF