27 SEP 2009 General News Scicli, Italy

Soi defends Scicli 10Km crown

Edwin Soi defends his victory in the Scicli 10Km (Alberto Zorzi)Edwin Soi defends his victory in the Scicli 10Km (Alberto Zorzi) © Copyright
He won in 2008, and made it double victory on Saturday (26) night. Kenya's Edwin Soi took the honours for the second time in a row in the Memorial Peppe Greco, the famous 10km road race held in Sicilian city of Scicli, ahead of a strong field.

The World record holder over the distance on the roads, Kenya's Micah Kogo, was second at the finish line, while third place was taken by a surprising Daniele Meucci, whose rush for the podium pleased the southern Italian crowd. Another home hero, former Olympic Marathon champion Stefano Baldini, who won in Scicli in 2005, was 10th.

Before Soi, only Haile Gebrselassie and Martin Lel had been able to win in Scicli on consecutive years. Athletes such as Paul Tergat, Kenenisa Bekele, Charles Kamathi, Hailu Mekonnen and Sileshi Sihine are other luminaries who have won here since the race was created in 1990 by Giovanni Voi to bring it to the international level.

"It was a very tough race, as Micah pushed fast. I knew to be in very good condition," said Soi. His winning time was 29:01

The start - A slippery course

The usually difficult course, comprised of 10 one-kilometre laps with a 300 metre uphill stretch over cobblestone in the middle, was even tougher because of the rain that fell during the day, making it quite slippery.

The first lap (3:04) was only about studying the course, as the pack was still formed by almost all the runners, but from the second (2:53) circuit Kogo took the lead and started pushing hard. "I like a fast pace, so I tried to do it," he said .

During the third lap (2:56) Baldini lost ground from the leaders. At halfway eight men led: Kogo; Soi; Meucci; Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi, the reigning 3000m Steeplechase World champion; Richard Mateelong, the runner-up in the same race in Berlin; Ethiopia's Imane Merga (fourth in the World Champs 10,000m),; Habtamu Fedaku Ashaw; Abraham Cherkos; and Tanzania's Dickson Marwa.

The 14:35 midway split made an attack the course record impossible, which still belongs to Gebrselassie with his 28:22 win from 1997.

The mistake – "Double win" by Soi

During the sixth lap Kemboi slowed down, while Kogo kept pacing sub-3:00 laps.

In the ninth lap, with 200 metres to go, someone made a big mistake and started sprinting, believing it was the last lap. Soi made a strong change of speed and crossed the line in the first position, while organizers made it clear that another lap remained.

The pack started running again and Soi won also the second sprint ahead of Kogo and Meucci. "I won two times, in the wrong and in the right finish," Soi joked.

"I was pacing and I knew that it wasn't the last lap, but I didn't know what to do," Kogo added. "When I saw the time on the clock, I had the confirmation of the mistake."

Soi - Regret for "miscalculation" at the Kenyan Trials

The winner had already shown in the last month to be in very good shape, as he closed second in the 5000m in Zurich behind Kenenisa Bekele with 12:55:03 and then ran his PB 7:31:48 in Rieti in the 3000m.

The win in Scicli ahead of some of the best long distance runners increased his regret for missing the World championships, where he would have defended his 5000m Olympic bronze medal.

"I did a miscalculation in my training and arrived at the Kenyan Trials in not perfect conditions," he explained. He was fourth and missed a team spot. "I'm sure that if I had been in Berlin, I would have fought for a medal like in Beijing."

"Soi was stronger than me, he runs shorter distance so his speed is better than mine,” said Kogo, who set the 27:01 world record in Brunssum on March 29. “I'm a little tired after such a long season. Now I'm going to take some rest and then I'll start again my training for cross country."

Meucci - "I thought to be eighth or ninth"

"When I saw the start list, I thought to be eighth or ninth at the finish," an excited Meucci said. "I like road races very much because of the crowd." Meucci confirmed that he will run in Birmingham at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships on 11 October.

"I knew to be in not good conditions and such a field doesn't permit it," Baldini said. "At the beginning it was very difficult, then I found my pace and ran in a regular way until the end." With two laps to go he had caught Kemboi, who out-sprinted him in the final.

Alberto Zorzi for the IAAF

Leadin Results (10km) -
 1. Edwin Soi Cheruiyot, KEN, 29:01
 2. Micah Kogo, KEN, 29:02
 3. Daniele Meucci, ITA, 29:03
 4. Abraham Cherkos, ETH, 29:04
 5. Richard Mateelong, KEN, 29:08
 6. Imane Merga, ETH, 29:11
 7. Habtamu Fedaku Ashaw, ETH, 29:13
 8. Dickson Marwa, TAN, 29:14
 9. Ezekiel Kemboi, KEN, 30:28
10. Stefano Baldini, ITA, 30:30