Ayele Abshero of Ethiopia takes a comfortable victory in Egmond aan Zee (Organisers) © Copyright
The popular but difficult race is contested partly over a North Sea beach and on a road through sand dunes. Last year’s race was cancelled due to severe weather but this year’s was met with mild, bright and sunny and conditions.
Abshero won the men's race in 1:02:23 while Afework was the fastest women in 1:12:53. Abshero was exactly half a minute faster than Kenyan Wilfred Kirwa. Abebe Dinkessa finished third in 1:03:10 give Ethiopia a 1-3 showing.
The women's race was a closer affair as another Ethiopian woman, Workitu Ayanu finished second just three seconds back in 1:12:56. Third place went to Flomena Chepchirchir of Kenya who clocked 1:13:10.
For several years the race has featured a battle of the sexes, with the women starting nine minutes ahead of the men. That race was again won by the men.
The women were the first to fight the strong southwestern headwind on the beach where a lead group of ten ran together. The pace increased when then the left the beach and began plowing through the dunes. A group of seven with Afework, Dutchwomen Lornah Kiplagat (who later had to withdrew due to a recurring injury) and Hilda Kibet, Ethiopians Ayanu and Melkam Gisaw, and Kenyan Flomena Chepchirchir and Gladys Jebet, broke away. Around the 14 kilometre marker the pace again picked up. Afework, Ayanu and Chepchirchir remained in contention until some 300 metres before the finish when Afework broke away.
The men’s race began with a group of 15 running at the front to face the headwind. Entering the dunes, the pace picked up with five running for the win - Abshero, Kirwa, Dinkessa, Fabiano Joseph of Tanzania and Kenyan Michael Mutai. At about 16 kilometres, Kirwa broke away and soon they caught the last women in front of them. In the fwaning stages Abshero accelerated again and Kirwa fell back.
There were 16,964 entrants in all, 24 percent of whom were women.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
1. Ayele Abshero, Eth 1:02:23
2. Wilfred Kirwa, Ken 1:02:53
3. Abebe Dinkesa, Eth 1:03:10
4. Fabiano Joseph, Tan 1:03:16
5. Michael Mutai, Ken 1:03:19
6. Abdelhadi El Hachimi, Mar 1:04:03
7. Gilbert Yegon, Ken 1:04:22
8. Koen Raymaekers, Ned 1:04:25
9. Khalid Choukoud, Ned 1:04:27
10. Patrick Stitzinger, Ned 1:05:18
1. Abebech Afework, Eth 1:12:53
2. Workitu Ayanu, Eth 1:12:56
3. Flomena Chepchirchir, Ken 1:13:10
4. Melkam Gisaw, Eth 1:13:48
5. Hilda Kibet, Ned 1:14:24
6. Gladys Jebet, Ken 1:16:05
7. Heleen Plaatzer, Ned 1:16:36
8. Andrea Deelstra, Ned 1:16:49
9. Inge de Jong, Ned 1:17:30
10. Miranda Boonstra, Ned 1:17:50
2006 Evergreen Mutola