Lornah Kiplagat retains title in San Juan in 2008 (Denni Lozza - Island Photography) © Copyright
General News San Juan, Puerto Rico

Kiplagat retains 10km title in San Juan

Mestawet Tufa’s quest to dethrone Lornah Kiplagat at the World’s Best 10K – an IAAF Gold Label Road Race - came up one kilometre short here Sunday evening (24). And in the men’s race, a last minute gaffe by Silas Kipruto cost him the win and a sub-28 minute clocking.

WOMEN

Kiplagat entered the race having won here four times in a row and five total. That put a large bull’s eye on the back of the woman who is the reigning World Cross and World Road Running champion. It was fitting then that at 3km (9:06), Kiplagat led a line of seven contenders, which included Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse, Ethiopia’s Elegayehu Dibaba and Tufa.

Kiplagat was controlling the race from the front as is her wont, pushing the pace and playing a game of “see if you can keep up with me.” As the runners turned back onto the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge seven became five and five soon became two. At 5K (15:03) Kiplagat bounced along in orange socks but a woman a head shorter than her was not going away.

Tufa had dropped out of the 10,000 final in Osaka with an Achilles problem, but she had had a good autumn and winter. Indeed, she was a week removed from placing third in the Ethiopian Cross Country Trials and her confidence was up. She appeared to biding her time, staying a step or two off Kiplagat’s shoulder, out of sight but not out of mind.

Coming off the bridge, the lead motorcycle’s lights were on and Kiplagat had disposed of her sunglasses. For the first time you could read the expression on her face. It showed strain. Up and over a highway overpass at 8K (24:40) Kiplagat surged again, maybe pushing Tufa three steps back instead of two. But then the Ethiopian was right back on her. It seemed only a matter of time until Tufa made her move, and that move came at 9K when Kiplagat put on a surge.

Tufa moved to the front to cover that move--and slowed—and Kiplagat almost crashed into her. The incident seemed to energize Kiplagat even more. She bolted, and opened up ten metres in a flash.

“She wanted to slow me down but then I realised that she had no power anymore and I went by her,” said Kiplagat, who did not slow down until she had reached the finish in 31:02.

MEN

In the men’s race 2007 IAAF World Road Running Championships bronze medalist Deriba Merga led from the gun and appeared to have the race in the bag until Kenya’s Silas Kipruto made a furious charge.

Kipruto went by Merga about 400 metres out and seemed assured of a win and a fast sub 28-minute clocking, when he followed a motorcycle to the wrong side of a fence, the side which guided runners away from the finish line. He realized his mistake, back tracked to get on the right side of the fence. But by then it was too late. Merga broke the tape in 28:03. 

Dave Kuehls for the IAAF

Men
1) Deriba Merga 28:03
2) Silas Kipruto 28:04
3) Wilson Kipsang 28:09
4) Wilson Kiprotich 28:09
5) Linus Maiyo 28:10
6) Samuel Kosgei 28:13
7) Demssew Tsega 28:24
8) Boaz Cheboiyo 28:25
9) Peter Kamais 28:30
10) John Korir 28:41

Women
1) Lornah Kiplagat 31:02
2) Mestawet Tufa 31:12
3) Elvan Abeylegesse 31:38
4) Dire Tune 31:46
5) Zhor Kamch 31:53
6) Linet Chepkurui 32:07
7) Aselefech Mergia 32:26
8) Luminta Talpos 32:27
9) Nataliya Berkut 32:28
10) Lyudmila Biktasheva 32:42