Britain’s Jo Pavey defended her Bupa Great Manchester Run (10km) title this morning (18), while Austria’s Günther Weidlinger, the former Steeplechase specialist who ran a national 10,000m record recently (27:36.46) led home an all-European top three in the men’s race. The race fields were of the highest class, and included the men’s and women’s World marathon champions.
Pavey pulled away from Kenya's Rose Cheruiyot, last autumn's Bupa Great South champion, in the closing stages of the 10 kilometres race to win by 10 seconds in a time of 31:58 with Bezunesh Bekele from Ethiopia, third in 32:33.
The Commonwealth 5000m silver medallist relished beating the two top Africans, and several others including former World and Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu and Catherine Ndereba, the reigning World marathon champion.
Just as important to Pavey was she felt no effects from a groin strain which she had played down but almost saw her pull out of the race beforehand as a precautionary measure.
Pavey the first woman to defend the Manchester crown commented: "It was very windy out there and I felt a bit of a niggle in the leg when the race got underway, but it quickly warmed up and I'm really pleased that I did run and manage to get away from Rose.”
"The win and the fact I'm not feeling any after effects, has given me lots of confidence and I'm now looking forward to continuing my preparations for Beijing. I'm not planning to do a 10,000m on the track before then - I've got the qualifier from last year, but you never know. I will however run over 5000m at the Bislett Games in Oslo next month."
Liz Yelling was the early race leader pushing out a very respectable pace over the first two kilometres which was quick enough to drop off Ndereba and former London and New York marathon champion Margaret Okayo, also from Kenya.
By the halfway point passed in 15:46, the leading pack was down to the three eventual medallists and Aniko Kalovics of Hungary and Tulu, who ultimately took fourth and seventh positions.
The tiny figure of Bekele, the Ethiopian half marathon record holder, managed to remain in contact, before Pavey and Cheruiyot strode away.
The men's race was even more exciting with Gunter Weidlinger in a surprisingly all-European finish, winning the sprint for the line ahead of Ukraine's Sergiy Lebid and Mustafa Mohamed from Sweden.
Weidlinger crossed the line in 28:10 just a single second in front of Lebid the seven-times European cross country champion and two seconds ahead of Somalian-born Mohamed, the fourth finisher in last summer's World 3000m Steeplechase final.
"This was a good win for me in difficult windy conditions and a very strong field in the line-up. But I was always confident I would win," said Weidlinger.
Indeed the 30-year-old soldier who badly injured himself when falling and hitting his head against a steeplechase barrier in last year's World Championships requiring stitches to his lip and jaw, was prominently at the fore from the first kilometre of the race.
Weidlinger was content to allow Kenya's World marathon champion Luke Kibet and Ireland's Mark Carroll fifth and 12th at ther finish, ‘do the donkeywork’ as the wind buffeted the runners.
But the strength of the Austrian, Lebid and 29-year-old Somalian-born Mohamed pulled them clear to set up a tremendous finish which thrilled the vast crowds who flocked to the Manchester finish area.
Dave Martin - PA International - for the IAAF
1, G Weidlinger (Austria) 28:10
2, S Lebid (Ukraine) 28:11
3, M Mohamed (Sweden) 28:12
4, J-M Martinez (Spain) 28:19
5, L Kibet (Kenya) 28:21
6, El Hassan Lahssini (France) 28:19
7, J-C de la Ossa (Spain) 28:27
8, M Geele (Somalia) 28:48
1, J Pavey (GB) 31:58
2, R Cheruiyot (Kenya) 32:08
3, B Bekele (Ethiopia) 32:33
4, A Kalovics (Hungary) 32:37
5, N Ejjafini (Bahrain) 32:54
6, C Ndereba (Kenya) 32:55
7, D Tulu (Ethiopia) 32:56
8, A Aguilar (Spain) 32:59