30 OCT 2011 General News Portsmouth, UK

Komon and Mergia take convincing victories in Portsmouth

Leonard Patrick Komon breaking the tape at the Great South Run (Mark Shearman)Leonard Patrick Komon breaking the tape at the Great South Run (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Leonard Komon, planning to attack Haile Gebrselassie's World 10 miles best performance at the Bupa Great South Run saw his attempt fall well short of his target of 44:23 seconds after slowing rapidly in the second half of the race.

The World 10Km and 15Km record holder, who made his intentions publicly known before this IAAF Gold Label Road Race, won in a time of 46:18 ahead of fellow Kenyan and World Marathon champion Abel Kirui by 22 seconds with Ireland's Alistair Cragg third in 47:14.


Komon, after missing the legendary Ethiopian's five-year-old mark five weeks ago by just four seconds in Zaandam, stunned his rivals with an unexpected first mile of 4:12 which saw him open a 100-metre lead from Kirui and Chris Thompson of Great Britain.


The 23-year-old inevitably paid the price for  his adventurous tactics in the second half of the race, particularly over the last two miles where with a headwind buffeting him, he was reduced to almost five minute per mile pace.


After a blistering start and maintaining the necessary momentum - he went through the halfway distance in 22:08 - Komon was at that point on target well geared up to succeed Gebrselassie after his narrow miss last month.


But then the former IAAF World Cross Country silver medalist felt the strain of running in a vacuum on his own and with the wind gusting off the adjacent Solent Waterway in his face over the last two miles, he contented himself to become the ninth Kenyan to win at the Portsmouth venue.


"I deliberately started fast as I knew it would be difficult when running against the wind in the closing stages," said Komen, who began to initially wilt between seven and eight miles before the hitting a wall in what was a lonely stretch of tarmac towards the finish line.


"The weather was too much for me and it was really tough at the end. It would have helped me if earlier in the race there had been someone to run with. I tried my hardest on my own but it wasn't enough."


Like the rest of the field, Kirui started at a much more conservative pace to maintain his second position from start to finish while Cragg had a podium finish which he really enjoyed.


"I passed Chris (Thompson) at seven miles and then I was targeting Kirui and even had an idea in my mind that I might catch him," said the Irish star, enjoying one of the best races of his career.


Thompson who was fourth and is always game for any challenge, admitted although having ran in the Bupa Great South Run two years when clocking a sedate 49:10, he had underestimated the factors needed for a 10 miler.


"I know I am in phenomenal shape at the moment but I didn't respect the course with my ambitions and went off much too quickly at the beginning," said the 2010 European track 10,000 silver medallist.


"Alistair was much more sensible. Today took a lot out of me but importantly I've learned a lesson about road running for the future."


Ethiopia's former World Half Marathon runner-up Asselefech Mergia won the women's race in 52:55 ahead of the Kenyan pair of Doris Changeywo and Irene Jerotich.


Changeywo, last year's Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medallist and Jerotich, winner of the Marathon title in New Delhi, clocked 53:34 and 53:43, respectively.


Mergia, always at the front of a seven strong pack but content to sit in during early stages, put in a telling burst after seven miles to follow in the footsteps of Derartu Tulu who set a Ethiopian best performance of 51:07 with her 2005 victory.


"I decided that was the best point to get clear as I knew when we turned (for the last two miles) the wind would make it very difficult - which happened," said Mergia in her first competition since dropping out of the recent IAAF World Championships Marathon.


Charlotte Purdue, who is already gaining respect on the international circuit after progressing into the senior ranks but who missed the summer's track campaign after a knee operation in May, fell over on her left ankle in the early part of the race placed fourth.


The 20-year-old, making her debut over the distance and ignoring the pain after the incident ,although initially falling off the pace fought back brilliantly to finish fourth in Jerotich's  slipstream in a time of 53:45.


There was a huge smile on her face when after medical attention she was reassured after treatment there was no real cause for concern. She was given the green light to fly and join a British endurance training camp in Kenya on Tuesday.


"After four miles I slipped on my ankle on the cobbles in the street and thought I had twisted it," said Purdue, one of the country's brightest prospects and despite her youth, determined to compete in next year's 2012 London Olympic Games.


"I could feel little spasms in my foot and slight pain but put it to the back of mind and was happy that I managed to get running properly again and almost caught Irene in the final 100 metres."


"I've just had plenty ice packed around it and it is okay. Now I'm looking forward to getting on the plane to Kenya on Tuesday for some high altitude training."


There she will join up with her coach Mick Woods and fellow Aldershot athlete Stephanie Twell who like herself is one of the most promising British runners emerging and considered to be in the mould of Paula Radcliffe who is also joining the training camp next week.


David Martin (organisers) for the IAAF

Leading Results:

Men -

1. L Komon (Kenya) 46:18

2. A Kirui (Kenya) 46:40

3. A Cragg (Ireland) 47:14

4. C Thompson (GB) 48:07

5. A Lemoncello (GB) 48:17

6. A Bouramdane (Morocco) 48:21

7. S Overall (GB) 48:23

8. R McLeod (GB) 48:33

9. J Walsh (GB) 48:37

10. J Mellor (GB) 49:08

Women -

1. A Mergia (Ethiopia) 52:55

2. D Changeywo (Kenya) 53:34

3. I Jerotich (Kenya) 53:43

4. C Purdue (GB) 53:45

5. M Barros (Portugal) 54:14

6. A Incerti (Italy) 54:18

7. A Ciolek (Poland) 54:41

8. I Lewandowska (Poland) 54:42

9. F Murray (GB) 54:49

10. J Doyle (Charnwood) 56:49