Bolzano, ItalyKenyans Edwin Soi and Silvia Kibet added their names to the prestigious list of winners of the Boclassic Silvesterlauf road race in Bolzano which celebrated its 33rd edition this year in a festive atmosphere. About 10,000 spectators packed the stands in the central Waltherplatz and the streets of this fascinating Northern Italian town.
Both Soi and Kibet held off their young Ethiopian opponents in high-quality races. In the men’s 10 km race 19-year-old Awash Fikadu Habtamu took the runner-up spot, while Emebt Etea Bedada, who is just 17, finished second beating last year’s winner Aniko Kalovics in the 5 km women’s race.
Soi displays confidence - men’s race
The men’s race started at a conservative pace in the first of eight laps. The rhythm was increased during the second lap when Fikadu and Moroccan Brahim Taleb went to the front clocking 7:29 after two laps closely followed by a large group which included Soi.
The race really hotted up in the fourth lap when Soi and Awash pushed the pace launching their kick for the 500 euro Mila Trophy prize for the runner able to win the intermadiate 5 km split sprint.
The prize went to Soi who was closely followed by Habtamu. The Kenyan and the Ethiopian engaged in a fierce neck-and-neck battle. During the last lap Soi launched his attack showing the same sprint which enabled him to score a double win in the 3000 and the 5000 metres at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart last September.
Soi crossed the finish-line in the Waltherplatz in 28:50 beating Habtamu by four seconds. Habtamu is a promising runner who began his international career last year with a third place in the Boclassic and went on to clock 27:06 in the 10,000 metres on the track in Hengelo during the summer.
Third place went to Kenyan Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul ahead of Sergiy Lebid from the Ukraine, the seven-time European cross country champion and winner of five editions of the Boclassic. Lebid ran the Boclassic just 24 hours after finishing second behind Micah Kogo at the Corrida of Houilles near Paris.
Fifth in the world class field was Mubarak Hassan Shami from Qatar, the World silver medallist in the Marathon in Osaka.
“It was a easy win,” Soi said. “This race was a good start to the 2008 season. I will run cross country races to prepare for the World Championships in Edinburgh on 30 March.”
Soi, who comes from Kericho and began running seven years ago, will be running at the Campaccio International Cross Country race on 5 January where he will face again Lebid.
Patience pays for Kibet - women’s race
The Hungarian star Kalovics took to the front in the early stage of the 5 km race along with last year’s European cross country champion Tatyana Holovchenko from Ukraine.
A big pack formed by Kalovics, Holovchenko, Kibet and Ethiopian Bedada went to the front in the first lap.
Bedada, who finished fourth in the 1500m at the World Junior Championships in Bejing 2006, launched her attack for the intermadiate Mila Trophy prize money in the second lap. The young Ethiopian pushed the pace building a considerable lead over Kalovics who tried to close the gap.
During the second lap Kalovics managed to catch Bedada but the Ethiopian responded quickly overhauling the former European Cross Country bronze medallist from Hungary, who won two main Italian marathons in Turin and Carpi and is preparing for another attempt over the 42 km distance in Rome on 16 March.
Kibet, who ran more conservately in the first three laps leaving the initiative to Kalovics and Bedada, launched her attack going to the front. The leading trio was formed by Kibet, Bedada and Kalovics.
The Kenyan, fourth at the World Championships in Osaka and second at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart in the 5000m, launched her kick. Bedada initially managed to respond but had to surrender to the Kenyan’s final sprint in the Railway station square where the race traditionally enters its crucial stage.
Kibet crossed the finish line in the Waltherplatz in 16:01 beating Bedada by four seconds. Kalovics completed the podium in third place in 16:08.
“The race started fast and my body responded well when I launched the final attack,” Kibet said. The Kenyan is planning to contest some indoor track races this winter, beginning in Stutgart on 2 February.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Men’s race (10 km):
1 Edwin Soi (Kenya) 28:50
2. Awash Fikadu Habtamu (Ethiopia) 28:54
3. Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul (Kenya) 29:04
4. Sergiy Lebid (Ukraine) 29:08
5. Mubarak Hassan Shami (Qatar) 29:18
6. Mokhtar Benhari (France) 29:30
7. Wilson Businei (Uganda) 29:47
8. Cosimo Caliandro (Italy) 29:53
9. Daniele Caimmi (Italy) 29:58
10. Ruggero Pertile (Italy) 30:09
1. Silvia Kibet (Kenya) 16:01
2. Emest Etea Bedada (Ethiopia) 16:05
3. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 16:08
4. Catherine Kirui (Kenya) 16:11
5. Sonja Roman (Slovenia) 16:16
6. Tatyana Holovchenko (Ukraine) 16:19
7. Agnes Tschurtschenthaler (Italy) 16:22
8. Valenina Belotti (Italy) 16:23
9. Renate Runggger (Italy) 16:28
10. Samira Mezeghrane (France) 16:39
11. Silvia Weissteiner (Italy) 16:49