Madrid, SpainEritrea’s Zersenay Tadese (28:27) and Portugal’s Jessica Augusto (31:59) clinched respective victories at the 46th ‘San Silvestre Vallecana’ - an IAAF Silver Label Road Race - held in the Spanish capital on New Year’s Eve (31).
Tadese and Augusto suceeded In a very different ways. While the World Half Marathon record holder took advantage of Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem’s route mistake over the closing stages, the Portuguese European Cross Country champion became an overwhelming victor as she built a massive 55-second advantage on Spain’s European 1500m champion Nuria Fernández.
Lamdassem the strongest but Tadese victorious
As he had hinted at the pre-event press conference Tadese’s early pace was far from his usual terrific rhythm. Actually, the 28-year-old let the Spanish athletes set the pace for the first half of the race.
The opening splits were a cautious 3:01, 5:52 and 8:45 times with no fewer than 15 men still in contention. The first serious movement came with the clock reading 10:25 when Spain’s reigning World indoor 3000m silver medallist Sergio Sánchez injected a brisker pace (2:47 for the fourth kilometre) to open a 10 metre gap over his closest pursuers, Tadese and the European 5000m silver medallist Jesús España of Spain. The big surprise in the leading pack was the presence of Tadese’s youngest brother Merhawi Tadese, an 18-year-old also based in Madrid.
The halfway point was crossed in 14:12 and soon afterwards Sánchez was reeled in by his chasers in the guise of the Spanish trio of European XC silver medallist Lamdassem, España and Chema Martínez, Morocco’s Mohamed Marhum and the Tadese brothers.
With 15:30 on the clock Tadese moved to the front for the first time and his relentless pace forced all the others to run in single file behind him. One by one his pursuers began to lose ground, the last three being Sánchez, Martínez and finally España at the eighth kilometre point crossed in 22:10 by Tadese and Lamdassem.
Some 8600m into the race the Moroccan-born Lamdasem unleashed a strong change of speed to open a sizeable gap on Tadese in a matter of few strides. By the 9000m point Lamdassem had a seven-second advantage on the Eritrean, a margin which seemed to be more than enough to romp home unopposed but the big surprise happened with exactly 600m left when the 29-year-old leader kept on straight ahead by mistake instead of taking a right bend.
That circumstance was taken advantage of by Tadese as when Lamdassem made amends and regained the right route both athletes were virtually even. For a few seconds it seemed that Lamdassem would be the eventual winner as he opened a slight gap again but when Tadese managed to catch and pass him with some 300 metres to go, a mentally devastated Lamdassem surrendered and started to jog to the finish line.
The Eritrean’s winning time was 28:27 with a nine-second advantage on Lamdassem while España completed a classy podium in 28:40. Tadese, who got his first win at the event after his runner-up spot in 2006, said: “It’s true that I’m not at my peak after the injury I sustained during the World Half Marathon championships but I think I would have won even without Lamdassem’s mistake.”
Augusto in a class on her own
On the women’s side –it was a joint men and women event – Augusto built a handsome margin from her chasers from the gun and her win was never in jeopardy. By the halfway point, the 29-year-old had a 20-second advantage on Fernández while Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova ran 1:20 adrift Augusto.
Mixed up with the male athletes – she came 38th overall – Augusto even increased her gap on Fernández over the second half to grab her third consecutive win in barely five days (26, 28 and 31 December). Augusto clocked a fine 31:59 time but the manner of her way suggests she could have run faster if needed. While Fernández took second in a PB of 32:54, the 40-year-old María José Pueyo finished a surprise third in 33:19, the same time given to Diana Martín, both of Spain. Shobukova was a distant seventh in 34:48.
The winner confirmed that she will make her Marathon debut next 16 April in London while her next appearance will come at the IAAF Cross Country permit in Edinburgh next Saturday 8 January.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Leading Results (10km):
1. Zersenay Tadese (Eri) 28:27
2. Ayad Lamdassem (Esp) 28:36
3. Jesús España (Esp) 28:40
4. Chema Martínez (Esp) 28:49
5. Sergio Sánchez (Esp) 28:53
6. Javier Carriqueo (Arg) 29:13
7. Mohamed Marhum (Mor) 29:14
8. Pablo Villalobos (Esp) 29:18
9. Merhawi Tadese (Eri) 29:18
10. Enrique Sánchez (Esp) 29:24
1. Jessica Augusto (Por) 31:59
2. Nuria Fernández (Esp) 32:54
3. María José Pueyo (Esp) 33:19
4. Diana Martín (Esp) 33:19
5. Elena Espeso (Esp) 33:42
6. Sonia Bejarano (Esp) 34:12
7. Liliya Shobukhova (Rus) 34:48
8. Beatriz Ros (Esp) 35:07
9. Azahara García (Esp) 35:22
10. Paula Mayobre (Esp) 35:41