Two years ago in “The World’s Best 10K” Wilson Kiprotich crossed the line in a virtual lockstep with John Korir but was awarded second place. This year Kiprotich made sure no one was near when he broke the tape. Kiprotich (27:43) and Lornah Kiplagat (30:49) were far and away the class of two deep international fields on Sunday evening (26). Both pocketed $30,000 for their efforts - 20,000 for the win and 10,000 in times bonuses) for breaking 28 minutes and 31 minutes, respectively.
“It was a good day for me,” said Kiprotich. “I had tried before to win this race but came in second. Today, I was very happy for the win.”
Early on in the men’s race, it was very quick. The pace at 2K was 5:15. At 3K, 7:57. Sammy Wanjiru lead a pack of 10 that included former New York Marathon champion Hendrik Ramaala, former Boston Marathon winner Robert Cheruiyot, as well as the recently minted U.S.A Cross Country long race champion, Ryan Hall. “At three kilometres the pace was already lactic,” said Ramaala, a former winner of the race. And that would be the undoing of most.
By 5K (13:33) only Kiprotich and Gilbert Okari were left. Coming off the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge for the second time, Okari went for water to douse his head in the 86-degree heat, and it was then that Kiprotich surged. Okari eventually caught back up, yet just as he did, Kiprotich surged again. And that was that. “He (Kiprotich) was tough,” said Okari, who finished second in 28:03. “At the end I had no legs. It was hard, hard.”
Kiprotich’s wining time was a course record, three seconds faster than the standard set by Korir in 2004. He is prepping for the Rotterdam Marathon and will possibly run the Lisbon Half Marathon as a tune-up. Wanjiru (28:08) closed late for third, with William Chebon in for fourth (28:14).
Three years ago in San Juan, Lornah Kiplagat fell behind at 5K during Paula Radcliffe’s World record run here. At year later, Kiplagat got revenge, besting Radcliffe with a late-race surge. This year’s race held none of that drama, yet it firmly solidified Kiplagat’s place as “the woman who owns San Juan.”
The elite women started five minutes ahead of the rest of the field, and coming onto the bridge after 200 metres, only Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere, the 2003 World champion and 2005 silver 10,000m track medallist, was still with Kiplagat. But not for long.
“Before one mile I was seeing from the shadows on the road that there was no one behind me,” Kiplagat said. Wearing sunglasses in the setting sun, the Dutch woman blitzed the fast first 5K in 14:55, then hung on gamely late, on the undulations off the bridge, up and over and back down on an overpass, then battling a slight up hill to the finish.
“It was a pity with the wind (because I could have run faster),” she said. “But it is always tough if you do it alone. Still, I ran sub-31 minutes here today, which was my goal,” she said. Kiplagat, the 2005 Rotterdam Marathon champion will return to Kenya to train for the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (1- 2 April).
Overall, more than 13,000 runners competed, the most ever for this race. Many, in fact, were still on the bridge as the sun set, San Juan’s beach front hotels winking in the growing darkness.
Dave Kuehls for the IAAF
RESULTS - “The World’s Best 10K”
1) Wilson Kiprotich 27:43
2) Gilbert Okari 28:03
3) Samuel Wanjiru 28:08
4) William Chebon 28:14
5) Patrick Ivuti 28:37
6) Linus Maiyo 28:38
7) Reuben Chebill 28:39
8) John Korir 28:43
9) Sammy Rongo 28:49
10) Robert Cheruiyot 28:55
NB. Ramaala 29:23 (position not yet known)
1) Lornah Kiplagat 30:49
2) Susan Chepkemei 32:07
3) Zhor El Kamch 32:19
4) Birhane Adere 32:54
5) Tatyana Petrova 33:00
6) Jelena Prokopcuka 33:02
7) Hilda Kibet 33:06
8) Nataliya Berkut 33:32
9) Adriana Pirtea 33:48
10) Lioudmila Kortchaguina 34:30