Two days before turning 20, teenager Cornelius Kangogo gave himself an early birthday present by landing a surprise win at the Corrida Pedestre Internationale de Houilles, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race held over 10km on Sunday (29).
Fellow Kenyan Micah Kogo, three times a winner in Houilles and a former world record-holder for the distance, was the pre-race favourite and was out to avenge his second-place finish from last year. But once again the 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist had to settle for the runner-up spot.
Ethiopia’s Afera Godfay – who, like Kogo, had finished second in Houilles last year – took the women’s race by a comfortable margin over team-mate Worknesh Degefa, who also improved by one place compared to 12 months ago.
Competing in what appears to be his first road race – as well as being the farthest distance he has ever contested – Kangogo showed no fear.
Roughly two thirds into the race, Kangogo moved into the lead as Kogo, Erick Ndiema and Dawit Weldesilasie tried to chase.
Their efforts were in vain, though, as Kangogo forged ahead to win in 27:57. For the second year in succession, Kogo took second place some nine seconds behind his younger compatriot.
At the 42nd edition of a race that has produced many close finishes in recent years, the last time there was a bigger winning margin was back in 2003.
Winner of the Great South Run this winter, Emmanuel Bett made it a Kenyan clean sweep, taking third place in 28:07, just one second behind Kogo.
Godfay goes one better than last year
While Kogo failed to improve on his second-place finish from last year, Ethiopia’s Afera Godfay succeeded in doing so in the women’s race.
In Houilles 12 months ago she was dragged around to a big PB of 31:52 as she finished just two seconds behind compatriot Ruti Aga.
Godfay’s performance this time was 14 seconds slower, but it was still more than enough to win comfortably.
The 22-year-old was tracked for most of the way by Worknesh Degefa and Morocco’s Rkia El Moukim. In the final stages El Moukim drifted off the leaders as Godfay began to open a lead.
Godfay stopped the clock in 32:06, six seconds ahead of Degefa as El Moukim clocked 32:34 for third place, her first podium finish in Houilles after finishing fourth in 2010 and 2011.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
1 Cornelius Kangogo (KEN) 27:57
2 Micah Kogo (KEN) 28:06
3 Emmanuel Bett (KEN) 28:07
4 Dawit Weldesilasie (ERI) 28:09
5 Phillip Kipyeko (UGA) 28:19
6 Erick Ndiema (KEN) 28:20
7 Samuel Tesfaldet (ERI) 28:41
8 Solomon Mutai (UGA) 28:45
9 Yassine Mandour (FRA) 28:46
10 Damte Kuashu (ETH) 29:07
1 Afera Godfay (ETH) 32:06
2 Worknesh Degafa (ETH) 32:12
3 Rkia El Moukim (MAR) 32:34
4 Tish Jones (GBR) 33:05
5 Lauranne Picoche (FRA) 33:42
6 Christine Bardelle (FRA) 33:48
7 Fathia Fauvel (FRA) 33:50
8 Mekdes Woldu (ERI) 34:01
9 Marisa Barros (POR) 34:03
10 Maryna Damantsevich (BLR) 34:14