21 JAN 2009 General News

Defending 10k champions Kiplagat and Merga line-up for San Juan

Lornah Kiplagat retains title in San Juan in 2008 (Denni Lozza - Island Photography)Lornah Kiplagat retains title in San Juan in 2008 (Denni Lozza - Island Photography) © Copyright

The organisers of the ‘World's Best 10K’ in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 1 March, which is one of the IAAF Gold Label Road Races in 2009, have announced a high class field with six-time champion Lornah Kiplagat heading the women’s cast.

Kiplagat, who is the reigning World Half Marathon champion, having won the global road running title for the third time when triumphing in Rio last October, saw off a weighty field of opponents in San Juan last year that included Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse, Ethiopia’s Elegayehu Dibaba and Mestawet Tufa, and will face similarly stiff opposition this year.

USA’s Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan take on the Dutchwoman in a race which has a US$100,000 bonus for a World record. NB. Info UPDATED 5 March

The global mark of 30:21 was set by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe when she won in San Juan in 2003. Kiplagat’s PB is 30:41, Dita’s career best is 31:14, while Flanagan is a debutant on the road at this distance but has track 10,000m best of 30:22:22, the American record.

Race Director Rafael Acosta commented about the strength of the line-up, “of the top-10 women in the world we have three of them.”

The men’s field on 1 March will be headed by Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, the Beijing Olympic marathon fourth placer who won the San Juan race last year in his 10km PB of 28:03. Merga looked to have settled for second  place in 2008 when the leader Silas Kipruto of Kenya mistakenly followed a motorcycle off course and by the time he had realised the error his advantage had disappeared, and his finished one second behind the Ethiopian.

Chris Turner for the IAAF