Edwin Soi (l) celebrates his third consecutive victory at the Peppe Greco 10Km (Alberto Zorzi) © Copyright
General News Scicli, Italy

Soi and Kibet take victories in Scili

Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie, who won here four times in a row from 1995 to 1998, is still called "the King of Scicli". Kenya's Edwin Soi could be named as well "the prince", as he won his third consecutive Memorial Peppe Greco, the famous 10km loop race held in this small Sicilian town, on Sunday (26) night.
 
With a superb finish the 2008 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist out-sprinted the other pre-race favourite, Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele, to cross the line in 29:17. The last lap was run in a stunning 2:39 split on this difficult course, comprised of 10 one-kilometre laps with a 300m uphill stretch over cobblestones.
 
For the first time race organisers, led by Giovanni Voi, also held a women's race, which was held the day before (Sep 25) in the nearby city of Modica. 5000m World silver medallist Sylvia Kibet of Kenya became the first woman to etch her name in the new race. Unlike Scicli's course, Modica's eight-lap circuit was not certified and measure about seven kilometres.
 
Soi – ‘I couldn't think about the win’

Before the race it was said that course record, set by Gebrselassie in 1997 with 28:22, would be in danger. After the first lap, that goal was already out of reach as the pack crossed the line in 3:23, half a minute behind record pace.
 
Several athletes remained in contention through the half, reached in 15:10. During the sixth lap Italy's Andrea Lalli lost ground, and in the eighth the other home favourite, Daniele Meucci, began to lag. Also Kenya's Micah Kogo, the former World record world holder at this distance, was dropped before the final lap.
 
At the beginning of the last lap, five remained in contention for the win. Bekele and Soi took the lead, followed by 10,000m World junior champion Dennis Masai. In the final straight Soi switched gears and put some twenty metres between him and the other two, closing with his arms raised.
 
"Before the race I couldn't think to win, as the field was very strong," Soi said. "At the beginning of the season I had some problems in my knee. Just in the last weeks I was able to train well and my shape is growing and growing."
 
Three weeks ago Soi ran 7:29.75 in the Rieti 3000m, behind Tariku Bekele’s world-leading 7:28.70. A few weeks earlier in Zurich he cracked the 13-minute barrier in the 5000m with 12:58.91.
 
"I remained in the middle of the group for the most of the race, to control my rival. With two laps to go I felt very good and I started to think of the victory," he continued. "For the next year I would like to take a medal at the World championships in the 5000m."
 
"I am satisfied with this second place," Bekele surprisingly said. "Last week I had some problems and I could not train as I wanted. Kenenisa, who won here in 2003, told me about this beautiful race and crowd."
 
The first Italian was Lalli, who beat Meucci in the final straight. "This was a very long season and it's not possible to run every time at 100%," said Meucci, who took a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Barcelona. "I tried to be a protagonist of the race, but I ran out of fuel."
 
Kibet – ‘In 2011 my goal is a gold medal’
 
The women’s race was very similar. The pace was very slow for the first seven laps and at the beginning of the final circuit 11 athletes remained in the fight. Kibet was the fastest over the final lap and took the victory in 23:33.
 
Ethiopia's Ejegayehu Dibaba and Kenya's Pauline Korikwiang filled out the podium, two and three seconds respectively, behind the winner. Ethiopia's Berhane Adere, who is stronger over longer distance, closed in a solid fourth position.
 
"We started slow, but it was good as we could enjoy the race," Kibet said. "In the last lap I felt very fresh, but it was not easy to beat such rivals."
 
But Kibet's season is not over. "I'm training for the next month’s Commonwealth Games," she said. "Next year I would like to debut in cross country and also improve the Berlin result." This means a gold medal in Daegu 2011.”
 
European 5000m champion, Alemitu Bekele of Turkey, was a disappointing seventh. "However I did not expect anything better," she said. "I'm now in a relaxed period and this race is a little long for my standards."
 
The first Italian was Anna Incerti, the bronze medal in European Championship's Marathon, who closed in ninth place.
 
Alberto Zorzi for the IAAF
 
Leading results -

Men's race (10km):
1. Edwin Soi, KEN, 29:17
2. Tariku Bekele, ETH, 29:18
3. Dennis Masai, KEN, 29:18
4. Lucas Rotich, KEN, 29:21
5. Adihana Gebretsadik, ETH, 29:24
6. Micah Kogo, KEN, 29:35
7. Andrea Lalli, ITA, 29:58
8. Daniele Meucci, ITA, 30:14
9. Ahmed El Mazoury, ITA, 30:46
10. Stefano Scaini, ITA, 31:11
 
Women's race (approximately 7km):
1. Sylvia Kibet, KEN, 23:33
2. Ejegayehu Dibaba, ETH, 23:35
3. Pauline Korikwiang, KEN, 23:36
4. Berhane Adere, ETH, 23:38
5. Oljira Jemama, ETH, 23:39
6. Meselech Melkamu, ETH, 23:42
7. Alemitu Bekele, TUR, 23:50
8. Hannah Wanjiru, KEN, 23:51
9. Anna Carmela Incerti, ITA, 23:52
10. Claudette Mukasakindi, RWA, 23:57