24 November 2007Cross River State, Nigeria An impressive field of international mountain runner lined up to contest the world's richest mountain running race over a course of 11.5km ascending 800m to the Obudu ranch at 1600m. With $50,000 at stake for both men and women winners, the Kenyans and Ethiopians turned out in force, with Rita Jeptoo taking the women's title and Habtamu Awash winning the men's.
The women started 15 minutes before the men and an exciting battle commenced between the world's two leading distance running nations.
2006 winner Rehima Kedir of Ethiopia led a large pack of ten up to the 6.5km point. Her fellow countrywoman Ashu Kasime suddenly injected an increase in pace which split the group apart leaving, among others, European Mountain Running Champion Anita Eversten gasping. Only Kenyan Rita Jeptoo (KEN) could go with her. At this stage World Mountain Running Champion Anna Pichrtova (CZE) was nowhere in sight.
The two leaders were locked together like glue until, as the final kilometer was passed, Jeptoo, winner of the Boston Marathon in 2006, took off with a devastating change of pace leaving Kasime standing to cross the line in a new course record time. Kasime and Angela Mutuku (KEN) also broke the course record as did the fourth finisher Eversten (NOR). Pichrtova finished strongly in sixth position.
Awash from the gun - men's race
The mens race was led from start to finish by Habtamu Fikadu Awash (ETH) who was 24 seconds outside Francis Kibiwott's course record. The latter was relegated to 14th position. Geofrey Kusuro (UGA) in second position broke up the Ethioian/Kenyan dominance in second position. With valuable cash prizes for the first eight, Ethiopia collected five and Kenya two.
Danny Hughes for the IAAF
1. Rita Jeptoo Sitienei (KEN) 51:42
2. Ashu Kasime (ETH) 52:01
3. Angela Mutuku (KEN) 53:09
4. Anita Eversten (NOR) 53:21
5. Mary Jepkosgei (KEN) 53:25
6. Anna Pichrtova (CZE) 53:28
7. Rehima Kedir (ETH) 53:34
8. Pauline Winangui (KEN) 53:53
1. Habtamu Awash (ETH) 42:50
2. Geofrey Kuruso (UGA) 43:02
3. John Sompol (KEN) 43:06
4. Lishan Fanta (ETH) 43:35
5. Tadese Tola (ETH) 43:56
6. Challa Demie (ETH) 44:01
7. Robert Kipkorir (KEN) 44:28
8. Solomon Molla (ETH) 44:50