Nijmegen, The Netherlands A rather strong eastern wind and low temperatures (5 to 7 degrees CT) produced a major hindrance to World record efforts at the 24th edition of the Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hills Run) over 15 kms in the eastern Dutch city of Nijmegen. In the race itself, Bizunesh Bekele caused a big surprise by beating multiple World record holder and World champion Lornah Kiplagat. The tiny Ethiopian fighter beat the Dutchwoman Kiplagat at the finish line 47:36 to 47:37. The men's race was a comfortable win for Sileshi Sihine of Ethiopia in 42:24.
More than 25,000 runners took part in the race over the ondulating course. They had not only to fight the hills but also a cold and fairly strong wind. In the men's race as well as the women's it was clear early on that no World records would be broken. Also early in the race it was clear in both divisions that the fight for the victory was a two sided affair.
Bizunesh means business - women's race
In the women's race Kiplagat and Bekele left their last opponent Rose Cheruiyot behind at around six kilometres. The two were constantly together. In the final 300 metres Kiplagat tried to break away but the tiny Ethiopian hung on and finally beat the World Road Running champion in the final metres coming from behind.
"Today it was not as on other days," Kiplagat said afterwards. "From the beginning it did not go as usual. I was hindered by the men around me and I did not have the normal feeling. More over I did not want to force myself. I did not have enough space around me in the beginning. It was not my day today."
Bekele was pleased with her victory. "I do not beat Lornah Kiplagat every day. The wind was very strong and it was pretty cold.
Commanding win for Sihine
After just two kilometres there were three leaders in the mens race: Shihine, Eshetu Wendimu and pacemaker Benjamin Kiplagat. Before the five kilometre point, passed in 14:22, Kiplagat could not follow and the other two were left alone with Wendimu mostly making the pace.
"At that moment I was already sure we could not break the world record (41:29) Felix Limo set here six years," Sihine recounted. Sihine and Wendimu passed 10 kilometres in 28:31. Shorly after this point Wendimu couldn't follow his compatriot any longer. Sihine crossed the line in 42:24, 12 seconds ahead of Wendimu. Kenyan Bernard Kipyego took third place more than a minute later.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
1. Sileshi Sihine (Eth) 42:24
2. Eshetu Wendimu (Eth) 42:36
3. Bernard Kipyego (Ken) 43:42
4. Stephen Kiprotich (Ken) 44:28
5. Frank Bollen (Bel) 45:33
6. Larbi Zeroual (Fra) 45:41
7. Stefan Vandenbroeck (Bel) 45:59
8. Gadisa Abebe (Ned) 46:10
9. Koen Raymaekers (Ned) 46:20
10. Colin Bekers (Ned) 46:29
11. Erik Sanders (Ned) 46:46
12. Mike Barsayan (Ken) 46:57
13. Edo Baart (Ned) 47:03
14. Gert-Jan Wassink (Ned) 47:19
15. Timothy Karanu (Ned) 47:24
1. Bizunesh Bekele (Eth) 47:36
2. Lornah Kiplagat (Ned) 47:37
3. Rose Cheruiyot (Ken) 48:49
4. Paula Todoran (Rum) 50:47
5. Peninah Arusei (Ken) 50:51
6. Petra KLaminkova (CZe) 51:54
7. Ilse Pol (Ned) 52:39
8. Daphne Panhuijsen (Ned) 53:57
9. Iva Milesova (Ned) 55:34
10. Inge van Bergen (Ned) 56:00