Dennis Chepkongin Masai won a classic 10,000m final Tuesday night, working together with his team-mate Paul Kipchumba Lonyangata to break most of the field before finally pulling away from eventual silver medallist Gebretsadik Abraha to win in 27:53.89.
Masai was the first to break from the bunched pack of 20 after 2000m of running. The split of 6:00.77 at the 2km mark seemed to spark Masai as he broke into a near sprint on the backstretch, shattering the pack and pulling a pack of six along with him. Lonyangata repeated Masai's move on the next lap, and the two took turns hammering the backstretch as the other four athletes - two Ethiopians, Uganda's Joseph Chebet, and Bahrain's Edwin Chebii Kimurer - struggled to stay in touch.
Kimurer was the first chipped away from that pack, then Chebet and Ethiopia's Debebe Woldesenbet (who eventually dropped out). By halfway, reached in 14:11, it was down to Masai, Lonyangata, and Abraha, each running the textbook example of their national team strategy: the Kenyans working together, surging and trying to drop the others, and the Ethiopian hanging on and waiting for a chance to kick for whatever he could get.
Finally, around 8000m (22:30.30) Chebet began to slip off the pace, and it was down to a duel between Masai and Abraha. With four laps remaining Abraha threw his cards on the table and took the lead for the first time, trying to see what kind of reserves Masai had. It turned out Masai had been keeping quite a bit. He responded immediately to Abraha's move and raised the stakes significantly, finally breaking the Ethiopian and running the final 1000m as an extended, fast-paced victory lap.
Abraha hung on for silver, ten seconds back in 28:03.45, and Lonyangata managed third in 28:14.55. The surprising fourth was Canada's Mohammed Ahmed, in 29:11.75. Ahmed, who with New Zealand's Aaron Pulford (5th, 29:14.23, a New Zealand junior record) had led the chase pack after Masai broke the race open, had patiently reeled in all those unable to hang on to the race in front.
Though outside the medals by almost a minute, Ahmed was welcomed home a hero by the Canadian crowd.
Parker Morse for the IAAF