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Moses Masai (28:01) and Vivian Cheruiyot (32:15) clinched overwhelming victories at the ‘45th San Silvestre Vallecana’ - which is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race - held in the Spanish capital on the night of New Year’s Eve (31 December).
The event was celebrated on a very windy and cold (5ºC) night. While the reigning World 10,000m bronze medallist relegated Spain’s European Cross Country champion Alemayehu Bezabeh to the runner-up place for the third time in a row, Cheruiyot’s closer rival was a surprising Nuria Fernández of Spain, second in 32:59.
Masai succeeds comfortably
Likely fearful of the annoying wind, the lead pack kicked off the race quite cautiously with Masai, Bezabeh and Spain’s Sergio Sánchez taking charge of the early pace right from the start. A slow 5:38 2000m split led to a leading pack of no less than 15 athletes. On the women’s side –it was a joint men and women event – Cheruiyot built a handsome margin from her chasers from the gun and her win was never in jeopardy.
The halfway point was crossed in 13:55 with a quintet comprising Masai, Bezabeh, Sánchez, Spain’s reigning European 5000m champion Jesús España and Italy’s Daniele Meucci although the latter two seemed in trouble. Firstly Meucci and then España dropped from the leading trio with 20 minutes on the clock. As for Cheruiyot, a 16:00 5000m split proved to be enough to keep the rest at bay, Spain’s Fernández, reigning World 3000m Steeplechase champion Marta Domínguez plus Italy’s Rosaria Console – a 30-year-old 2:26:45 marathoner - being her closest chasers.
The key movement came exactly at the eighth kilometre point when a powerful Masai (22:00 for the Kenyan) destroyed any opposition from Bezabeh and Sánchez and pulled away from them taking advantage of the start of the tough up-hill section of the race. Meanwhile, Bezabeh easily got rid of Sánchez and from then on the gap between the first three was increasingly bigger and bigger.
As it has been a tradition in the San Silvestre Vallecana, Masai’s face was largely covered by shaving cream at this latter part of the race but that was not barrier for the 23-year-old ace to run the closing two kilometres in style and romp home unopposed inside the football stadium in 28:01 to complete a hat trick of victories on the road on European soil over the last months.
There was no major changes in the battle for the remaining places on the podium and the Ethiopian-born Bezabeh had to settle for second - as was the case in 2007 and 2008 – credited with 28:10 while Sánchez’s clocking for third was 28:21, clearly ahead of España (28:40), Meucci (28:52) and the 38-year-old Chema Martínez (29:01), the last Spanish victor here back in 2003.
A joyful Masai declared after the race: “It was my first time in Madrid and I’m impressed for the atmosphere surrounding the event, it’s amazing. I had the race under control and decided to break away with two kilometres left to secure my win.” Next up for Masai is the Cross Country Campaccio in Italy on 6 January.
As for 3rd finisher Sánchez, the 27-year-old explained, “A policeman didn’t let access the event area and I couldn’t warm-up properly so I’m satisfied with my podium place in these circumstances.”
On the women’s section, Cheruiyot kept on her magnificent display of easy running throughout the second half of the race to repeat the top spot she managed here in 2007, her winning performance being 32:15. It was a fierce battle for the minor places on the podium with Fernández – 4th at the last Berlin Worlds in the 1500m - prevailing in the latter stages on Console (32:59 vs 33:02) taking advantage of her track pedigree although the Italian managed to leave World champion and ‘defending’ champion Domínguez off the podium.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Leading Results (10,000m):
Men - 1. Moses Masai (Ken) 28:01 2. Alemayehu Bezabeh (Esp) 28:10 3. Sergio Sánchez (Esp) 28:21 4. Jesús España (Esp) 28:40 5. Daniele Meucci (Ita) 28:52 6. Chema Martínez (Esp) 29:01 7. Manuel Penas (Esp) 29:19 8. José Carlos Hernández (Esp) 29:22 9. Ouais Zitane (Mor) 29:28 10. Francisco España (Esp) 29:41