Imane Merga taking the Giro Media Blenia (Ti-Press/Carlo Reguzzi) © Copyright
General News 26 April 2011 – Dongio, Switzerland

Merga defends title in Dongio 10Km

Dongio, SwitzerlandReigning World Cross Country champion Imane Merga won the 27th edition of the Media Blenio Grand Prix 10Km road race in Dongio in the Italian-speaking region of Canton Ticino in Switzerland on Monday (25).

Despite warm conditions Merga crossed the finish line in 28:17 missing the course record held by his illustrious compatriot Haile Gebrselassie (28:10) by seven seconds.

The Swiss race was organised for the first time in 1985 to celebrate the Olympic silver medal won by Swiss runner Markus Ryffel at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and was won three times by Paul Tergat (1993, 1996, 1997), Gebrselassie (1995), Edwin Soi (2006, 2007 and 2008) and Moses Mosop (2009) to name just a few names who contributed to the history of the Media Blenio.

Merga, who won the Diamond Race in the 5000m at last year’s inaugural Samsung Diamond League, repeated his win from last year thanks to his trademark devastating kick in the final metres to defeat 59:30 Half Marathon runner Philemon Limo from Kenya who finished four seconds behind. Hunegnaw Mesfin from Ethiopia finished third in 28:33.

After a first lap run in 4:06 in which none of the leading pack seemed to take the initiative, five men - Limo, Merga, Mesfin, Alex Korio and Silas Kipruto - broke away from the rest of the field by increasing the pace in the second lap run in 7:29.

Only Kipruto lost ground on the leading group which was whittled down to Limo, Merga, Korio and Mesfin during the third lap. During the fourth lap Korio was dropped, while Mesfin tried to keep the pace with Limo and Merga.

Limo kept the lead for most of the race but Merga stayed closely behind in his wake at the ready to unleash his kick in the final lap. This was what exactly happened after they clocked 24:55 at the bell.

The race was decided in the final sprint when Merga launched his kick which was reminiscent of the sprint produced at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria.

Merga, who won the 5000m at Samsung Diamond League stops in Oslo and Rome last year, will focus on the longer distance heading into this summer’s World Championships in Daegu.

“The 10,000 metres will be my goal for this season,” said Merga, who finished fourth in the 10,000m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. “I feel I have more chances over the longer distance in Daegu.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Leading Results:
 1. Imane Jida Merga (Ethiopia)   28:17
 2. Philemon Limo (Kenya)         28:21
 3. Hunegnaw Mesfin (Ethiopia)    28:33
 4. Alex Korio (Kenya)            29:22
 5. Silas Kipruto (Kenya)         29:52
 6. Ahmed Nasef (Morocco)         30:12
 7. Chengere Tolossa (Ethiopia)   30:42
 8. Mehdi Khelifi (Tunisia)       30:45
 9. Solomon Tesfemariam (Eritrea) 30:51
10. Ahmed El Mazouri (Italy)      30:53