Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot produced a dominant front-running display to win the Great South Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (25).
In near perfect conditions, the world 10,000m champion clocked 51:17 for 10 miles in Portsmouth on the English south coast, beating Britain’s European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey by one minute and 27 seconds.
On a relatively windless day on a course notorious for the strong headwinds in the final two miles, Cheruiyot, who was making her debut appearance over 10 miles and racing seriously at a distance farther than 12km for the first time in an illustrious career, moved to fifth on the world all-time list behind Linet Masai, Lornah Kiplagat, Sonia O’Sullivan and Paula Radcliffe, the latter two having set their best times on the Great South Run course.
After two steady opening miles in which the leading group comprising Cheruiyot, Pavey, Britain’s European cross country champion Gemma Steel and the Kenyan duo Betsy Saina and Doris Changeiywo stuck closely together, the 32-year-old Olympic silver medallist then made her move.
Of the others, only Changeiywo tried to maintain the searing pace, but soon fell back, especially when Cheruiyot clocked 4:53 for the fifth mile.
That left a close battle for podium positions, which the 42-year-old Pavey won, taking second place with a sprint finish in 52:44, a world W40 best performance, with Changeiywo seven seconds behind.
With a huge lead and the race effectively won, Cheruiyot could afford to maintain a steady pace for the second half of the race and was understandably delighted with her performance, her first outing since running 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich in early September.
“The race was good for me,” she beamed. “It was my first 10 miles in my career and the first long distance. I enjoyed it and the time was good for me. I’m happy, because it has shown me that I will be good in future. I’ll be back next year.”
Explaining her move at the two-and-a-half mile mark, Cheruiyot said: “I was checking how I was feeling, but then I thought, ‘let me move’. I wanted to chase the time, because if you’re running, you want to run a good time.”
With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, she has her sights set on at least one more track season before turning her attention to the roads full time.
“I will run one half marathon in the spring and then in maybe 2017 I will run a marathon.”
Kipsiro becoming a road warrior
In a competitive and entertaining men’s race, pre-event favourite Moses Kipsiro clocked 46:00, prevailing over Kenya’s Emmanuel Kipsang and 2013 winner Emmanuel Bett, with a total of seven men running under 47 minutes.
As perhaps was to be expected with such a closely matched field, the first seven miles saw all of the main contenders – including 2013 world cross country champion Japhet Korir, 2007 world 10,000m bronze medallist Martin Mathathi, Evans Kirui and 2015 San Diego Half Marathon winner Kevin Kosgei – closely bunched.
In the end it was Bett, winner of the Great South Run in considerably worse conditions two years ago, who tried to make a break, but Uganda’s Kipsiro and Bett’s Kenyan countrymen Kipsang, Kirui, Mathathi and Korir soon joined him again at the front.
In the closing stages, Commonwealth 10,000m champion Kipsiro finally pulled clear to take a hard-earned win, with Kipsang and Bett eight and 11 seconds adrift respectively.
After a track season hit by injury, the 29-year-old Kipsiro was pleased to continue his fine form on the roads, adding to his victory at the Great Scottish Run half marathon earlier this month.
“It was a nice race and I enjoyed it,” he smiled. “The course is flat and the weather is ok, and it was good to run in a group.
“When we hit seven miles, Emmanuel Bett tried to push. I tried to push too and went with him and when we turned through nine miles, my body felt ok, so I thought, ‘I need to go’.”
Like Cheruiyot in the women’s race, it was Kipsiro’s first attempt at the 10 miles distance and offered him a glimpse of the future.
“I have the New Delhi Half Marathon next month, so that’s the race I am targeting now," he said. "The roads are where I am heading to.
“I’ve been having problems with running on the track and wearing spikes; it’s giving me difficulty," he added. "When I put on racing shoes, I feel some relief, so I need to move to the road now. Hopefully I will run the marathon at the Olympic Games."
Dean Hardman for the IAAF