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Julien Wanders on his way to winning the Corrida Internationale de Houilles (Jiro Mochizuki) © Copyright

Julien Wanders and Stacy Ndiwa claimed the titles at the Corrida Pedestre Internationale de Houilles, as the 46th edition of the IAAF Silver Label road race was held in windy and rainy conditions on Sunday (31).

Wanders’ victory in this 10km event put an end to 30 years of African dominance in Houilles. He’s the first European runner to prevail in this race in the northwestern suburbs of Paris since Frenchman Paul Arpin’s victory in 1987.

“I want to win the race, and the time will follow,” Wanders said before the race.

As usual, he set an aggressive pace from the outset and took command of the race with Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer by his side.

The first kilometre was hit in 2:44, suggesting a possible finish time of about 27:30.

Despite a headwind, Wanders continued to press on and the field broke up behind him. He reached two kilometres in 5:32, about 15 metres ahead of Yimer who shot out of the chasing group. At the end of the first of three 3.33km laps, Wanders led with a gap of about three seconds over Yimer, who was fifth in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 where he set his PB of 26:56:11.

Yimer himself was about 15 metres ahead of the chasing group composed of four runners, including 2014 European steeplechase champion Yoann Kowal, Kenya’s Cornelius Kangogo, a three-time winner at this event, Ethiopia’s Yasin Haji and Florian Carvalho of France.

Wanders then slowed slightly, allowing Yimer to rejoin him between kilometres four and five. The duo passed the halfway point in 14:02, with the second group, spearheaded by Kowal, eight seconds adrift.

Wanders and Yimer reached the sixth kilometre in 16:50 as the chase pack splintered. Hayato, who didn’t manage to bridge the gap behind the leaders, carved out a lead over Kowal, Kangogo and Carvalho, who began to falter. It became obvious Yimer and Wanders would battle for the victory.

The Swiss runner made his first move 7.5 kilometres into the race. Although Yimer began to struggle with the pace, he managed to stick with him. One kilometre later and as the rain came down, Wanders made his decisive attack and was ultimately rewarded for his efforts. Yimer, who was the fastest entrant of the field courtesy of a 27:54 PB set in September, drifted back but didn’t give up.

Wanders managed to hold off the Ethiopian’s late comeback in the closing stages to break the tape in 28:02, 15 seconds outside the 27:47 course record set by Ethiopia’s Imane Merga in 2010. The 21-year-old also improved his own Swiss record by 11 seconds.

“I took my responsibilities,” Wanders said. “When Yimer came back, I decided to adapt my tactic. I slowed down a bit to save some energy for the final. I gave everything in the last kilometre. I didn’t give up and I’m very happy because it paid off.” Wanders said his next races will be half marathons, including the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March.

Hayato finished third in 28:27, while defending champion Kangogo finished fourth in 28:53, one second ahead of Kowal.

Ndiwa leads Kenyan sweep in women’s race

Stacey Ndiwa of Kenya fulfilled her role of favourite in the women’s race. She led the race from start to finish to win in 31:35, placing 35th overall. Her compatriot Evaline Chirchi, whose only outing this season was a 48:54 performance over 15km in Nijmegen, wasn’t able to sustain the pace and eventually drifted to second.

Fifth at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships, Ndiwa confirmed her current form as she improved her PB this autumn in two back-to-back races, clocking 31:37 in Prague and then 31:27 in Ziwa.

Chirchir was second in 32:10 as Magdalene Masai, who ran a 31:44 PB in April, rounded out the podium, one minute behind the winner.

Quentin Guillon for the IAAF

Leading results

Men
1 Julien Wanders (SUI) 28:02
2 Jemal Yimer (ETH) 28:03
3 Yasin Haji Hayato (ETH) 28:27
4 Cornelius Kangogo (KEN) 28:53
5 Yoann Kowal (FRA) 28:54

Women
1 Stacey Ndiwa (KEN) 31:35
2 Evaline Chirchir (KEN) 32:10
3 Magdalene Masai (KEN) 32:36
4 Rosie Clarke (GBR) 33:03
5 Mekdes Woldu (ERI) 33:27