Micah Kogo of Kenya, the world’s fastest 10,000m runner of 2006 (26:35.63), won today’s 23rd edition of the Zevenheuvelenloop over the distance of 15 kilometres in a thrilling four-man sprint finish, with a time of 42:42.
The 20-year-old Kenyan beat Abebe Dinkessa of Ethiopia (42:43), Kenyan Bernard Kipyego and Eritrea’s World Road Running champion Zersenay Tadesse, who both clocked 42:44 for third and fourth place respectively.
The women’s race was won by Mestewat Tufa of Ethiopia in 47:22.
"I was afraid of Tadesse"
After a night and morning of heavy rain, 20,000 competitors started the 15km race with the rain falling lightly, in a temperature of 8 degrees CT.
The men’s contest, after a rather slow start in the first five kilometres (14:27), became a five men affair with Kogo, Dinkessa, Kipyeago, Tadesse, and Kenyan Charles Koech. This group of five stayed very close together over the rather hilly course which is set in the most eastern part of The Netherlands. They were cheered on by thousands of spectators who sheltered from the rain under the autumn coloured trees. However, Tadesse, who was running his first race after capturing the World title, was dropped slightly and for some of the time was four seconds off the pace.
After passing 10 kms (28:42) and going downhill the pace increased but the four men stayed together, and Tadesse rejoined the others and started pressing the pace. As such, the split times of over three minutes per kilometre went down, and the 13th kilometre was run in 2:40.
Charles Koech began to have trouble at this point and lost contact, while the other four battled on together to the very final metres of the 15km when the strength of Kogo’s sprint finally told on his opponents.
Kogo, who was running his first race in The Netherlands said afterwards he was very happy with the victory – “I was afraid of Tadesse but I knew I could beat him. The beginning was rather slow but the last two kilometres were awfully fast. I have this year’s fastest 10,000 metres (26:35.63 – 1st Brussels Golden League) time, and I now will prepare for a season on the track next year.''
Micah Kogo is a relatively new kid on the block, who started running only three years ago.
An Ethiopian affair
The women’s race was a battle between Mestewat Tufa and Gete Wami. The two Ethiopian women, despite Wami suffering from menstrual pains, were already far away from their opponents after 5kms (15:55).
At 10kms, the two were over one minute ahead of Kenyan Edith Masai, who eventually finished third in 49:02.
In the end Tufa managed to open an advantage on her more illustrious compatriot, the 1999 World 10,000m champion, winning in 47:22, with Wami, who had secured the Berlin marathon title in September in an Ethiopian record (2:21:34), just nine seconds behind.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
23rd Zevenheuvelenloop at Nijmegen (The Netherlands), Sunday 17 November 2006
Men – 15km
1 Micah Kogo Ken 42:42
2 Abebe Dinkesa Eth 42:43
3 Bernard Kipyego Ken 42:44
4 Zersenay Tadesse Eri 42:44
5 Charles Koech Ken 42:58
6 Brahim Lahlafi Mar 43:14
7 Richard Limo Ken 43:52
8 Kamiel Maase Ned 44:06
Women – 15km
1 Mestewat Tufa Eth 47:22
2 Gete Wami Eth 47:31
3 Edith Masai Ken 49:02
4 Hilda Kibet Ken 49:31
5 Deribe Alemu Eth 49:44
6 Petra Kaminkova Cze 52:23
7 Merel de Knegt Ned 52:54
8 Jana Klimesova Cze 53:25