Tirunesh Dibaba, the reigning world and Olympic champion at 10,000m, is returning to the north west of England to defend her title in the Bupa Great Manchester Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday 18 May.
The 28-year-old Ethiopian reduced the women’s course record to 30:49 last year, and will return to Manchester following her impressive marathon debut in London the weekend before last.
Dibaba has been a trailblazer in women’s distance running for more than a decade now.
She became the youngest ever women’s individual world champion when she won the global 5000m title as a 17-year-old at the Stade de France in Paris in 2003.
The diminutive runner became the first woman to complete an Olympic double at 5000m and 10,000m when she struck gold at both distances in Beijing in 2008. In all, Dibaba has won three Olympic gold medals after she successfully defended her 10,000m crown at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and five world titles on the track.
She has held the world 5000m record, 14:11.15, since 2008 and recently extended her range to the marathon in London on 13 April, finishing third in 2:20:35 behind Kenyans Edna Kiplagat and Florence Kiplagat.
It made Dibaba the third fastest ever debutante as a women’s marathon runner, and would have undoubtedly been faster had she not lost touch with the Kiplagats after dropping her bottle at the 30km drinks station.
The Bupa Great Manchester Run will be a stepping stone to the summer track season for Dibaba, who has never lost a 10,000m race on the track and whose last defeat at the distance on the roads dates back to November 2002, when she finished runner-up to Werknesh Kidane in the second Great Ethiopian Run.
“Tirunesh ran a fantastic marathon debut in London and she’s recovered well,” said Peter Riley, elite athlete manager for the Bupa Great Manchester Run.
“It will be interesting to see what she does in Manchester. Last year she came and sat in with the others until halfway and still broke the course record.”
Sadly, there will be no rematch for Dibaba with Priscah Jeptoo, who beat her in the Bupa Great North Run half marathon on Tyneside last September. The Kenyan suffered a stress fracture in the London Marathon and has withdrawn from the Manchester race.
Nevertheless, the elite women’s field includes some of Europe’s leading lights: Italy’s Valeria Straneo, the marathon silver medallist at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow last summer; France’s Sophie Duarte and Great Britain’s Gemma Steel, who finished first and second in the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade last December, as well as Portugal’s Sara Moreira, who has won silver and bronze over 5000m at the past two European Championships.
Established in 2003 as a legacy event for the Manchester Commonwealth Games of the previous year, the Bupa Great Manchester Run has attracted an equally impressive field for the elite men’s race this year.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, holder of the world marathon record and winner of this year’s London Marathon, faces Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, holder of the world records at 5000m and 10,000m and a winning marathon debutant in Paris on 6 April.
Organisers for the IAAF