Spain’s Juan de la Ossa and Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia won today’s BUPA Great Caledonian 10km in Edinburgh beating off some of Africa’s distance running elite on the streets of the Scottish capital.
De la Ossa twice European Cross Country Championships runner-up - he claimed the first silver medal in the Scottish capital 17 months ago - produced a superb long sprint 600 metres from home to win in a time of 28:22. It wasn't an easy victory, both pre-race favourite as World Junior 10,000m Boniface Kiprop of Uganda, fourth in the 2004 Olympic final, and Tanzania's John Yuda, a double World Half Marathon bronze medallist were hot on his heels, indeed their neck-and-neck duel, saw them both finish just two seconds behind the winner.
"Once we started, I felt good,” confirmed the winner. “The course with its hills suited me, and although it was tough, I always felt comfortable. I knew I was in good shape from the training I have done back home. I have also been doing a lot of speedwork so when it came to the finishing stages, I knew I could make a strong challenge.”
"I didn't know what was going on behind me in the last stretch -I just got my head down and started sprinting. It is good to come back here where I won my first (European) cross country silver medal and score a victory. This is a good win for me particularly beating the Africans. It is also good for European athletics that she (Prokopcuka) won the women's race."
Prokopcuka really savoured her success against two-times Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu even though the Ethiopian did establish an early lead.
Tulu who is returning home to consider whether she will challenge for more honours in this summer's World Championships, broke away just before half distance. But the Latvian winner of the Osaka Marathon in January, quickly reeled her in and with two kilometres of the race remaining had established a six seconds lead, which gradually got longer.
Prokopcuka, relishing one particularly long uphill climb in the closing stages, extended her winning margin to 12 seconds, at the finish clocking 32:42, with Portugal's Jessica Augusto (33:24) taking third.
"Obviously I am pleased with my win, but you must remember Tulu ran a marathon only three weeks ago and must have been feeling the effects of that," said the benevolent winner.
The first European-born athlete in last summer's Olympic 10,000m final, added: "When Tulu got away early it was on a downhill stretch and that suited her. For me running uphill is one of my strengths and when I broke away, I was still running comfortably. She is a great runner and to have beaten her is an honour which I will remember. It wasn't easy. Now I'm looking forward to running in this country in a fortnight's time," said Prokopcuka who will be bidding to also collect the BUPA Great Manchester Run title.
Tulu admitted although finding the early stages of the course to her liking, she struggled on two of the very tough climbs in the second part of the race. "She deserved to win and ran a very good race," said Tulu. "There are no excuses from me - Jelena was so powerful on the hills. Now I'm going home to think about my future plans for the summer," said Tulu who missed last week's Ethiopian Championships to run in Edinburgh.
Dave Martin for the IAAF
1. Juan de la Ossa (ESP) 28:22
2. Boniface Kiprop (UGA) 28:24
3. John Yuda (Tan) 28:24
1. Jelena Prokopcuka (Lat) 32:42
2. Derartu Tulu (Eth) 32:54
3. Jessica Augusto (Por) 33:24