Kenya’s Micah Kogo and Germany’s Irina Mikitenko, won the inaugural 'BUPA London 10000' in the British capital yesterday (26 May), a race which was officially waved-off by Finnish Olympic legend Lasse Viren, the 1972 and 1976 5000m and 10,000m champion.
Kogo in a repeat of the Bupa Great Manchester Run 12 months ago where he defeated Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the reigning double World Road Running champion, for victory and the UK All-Comers Record for the distance.
In wet and windy conditions a small group headed by seven-times European Cross Country Champion Sergiy Lebid soon broke away from the field.
Lebid, who after a conservative start in Manchester a week ago (18 May) had finished well, looked strong in the early stages but was soon dropped as 2008 Flora London Marathon champion Martin Lel and Tadese picked up the pace, the two pulling clear with Micah Kogo and Britain’s Mo Farah, Lebid dropping off the back for the group.
The Ukranian momentarily reeled them back in with Kogo setting the pace, before Tadese at the 3km mark kicked once again, taking over the lead, the rest of the elite runners now well detached.
Going through halfway in 14:35, Lel was now out of contention, Kogo and Tadese clear with Farah, who set a UK 10,000m track best (27:44.54) at the Cardinal Invitational in the USA in early May a few metres behind, hanging on.
After the trio passed 6km, Tadese kicked for the second time, on this occasion with serious intention of breaking for the finish, however, only Farah was defeated, soon 20m adrift, Kogo matching the 2004 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist step for step.
As they kicked on along the Victoria Embankment there was nothing between them and they passed the 8km mark – having clocked a 2:40 kilometre - in 22.40, a near identical replay from the Manchester event one year ago.
Kogo eventually pulled clear as the pair reached Whitehall, sprinting clear along the Mall to finish in 28:08, Tadese clocking 28:15 for second. Farah, first Brit and third overall, having recently returned from a two month training spell at Flagstaff in the US with the young Kenyan Kogo, recorded 28:39 for third. The second half of the race – ran with the wind - had been covered in 13:34, more than a minute quicker than the first.
“I really enjoyed that,” Farah said, “although my priority is now the Olympics. I want to stay strong and injury free. For the winner he had praise, admitting he benefits from training with an athlete of Kogo’s ability. “I know him really well. It’s really nice to train with someone as good as him, he’s a class athlete.”
The appreciation was mutual, Kogo stating “I want Mo Farah to do well.”
“I was pleased with my performance today in this Bupa 10000,” he went on to say, “it didn’t matter to me it was raining.”
The elite women’s field headed by 2008 Flora London Marathon champion Irina Mikitenko, Aniko Kalovics, Hungarian record holder over 5km, 10km and marathon, and Great Britain Olympic hopeful Mara Yamauchi, set off at pace, and within seconds were breaking clear with only Liz Yelling, who along with Yamauchi and Paula Radcliffe was last week named in the GB Olympic Marathon team, remaining in touch.
Mikitenko, the Kazakhstan-born German, stunned crowds in London in April as she won the Flora London Marathon (13 April) in only her second ever attempt at the distance, and her return to the capital on this occasion looked like it would prove to be sweet from early on in the race when she broke clear with only Yamauchi and Kalovics, fourth in last weeks Great Manchester Run (May 18th), for company.
The trio were at the fore for the first 5km, which they passed through in 16:18, 16:19 and 16:26 respectively before Mikitenko started to pull away.
“We were together until about halfway,” said Yamauchi, “but I couldn’t quite stay with her.”
Liz Yelling, who set a new personal best as she finished first Brit in London in April, had suffered from a virus all week and was reasonably pleased with her performance (33:14), in spite of falling off the pace in the early stages.
In the end Mikitenko finished 24 seconds clear of Yamauchi in second place, although the Japan-based Brit felt she was closing the gap as the pair raced home along the Embankment.
“It was alright today,” she said. “I felt good actually and I was catching her at the end. I’m really pleased. This was a bit of a sharpener really, I’ve been doing a lot of endurance type training and I didn’t have much speed in my legs. I hope to be in really good shape by August, and I may do another race before then if it fits in with my schedule.”
For Mikitenko, who admitted she may do a half marathon prior to her Beijing marathon challenge, it was a happy return to London. “I am very happy today,” she confirmed, smiling. “This year has gone very well.”
Over 6000 runners braved the elements in the inaugural Bupa London 10000.
1. Micah Kogo 28:08
2. Zersenay Tadese 28:15
3. Mo Farah 28:39
4. Martin Lel 28:58
5. José Manuel Martinéz 29:37
1. Irina Mikitenko 32:02
2. Mara Yamauchi 32:26
3. Aniko Kalovics 32:59
4. Liz Yelling 33:14
5. Birhan Dagne 33:52