Dongio, SwizerlandKenyan Edwin Soi scored a hat-trick when winning the Giro Media Blenio Grand Prix race in Dongio for the third consecutive year equalling the record of former World marathon record holder Paul Tergat who won the popular swiss Easter Monday race three times in 1993, 1996 and 1997.
Soi claimed victory after a hard-fought 10km race on a sunny but cold afternoon swept by a chilly wind. Soi held off last year’s World Cross Country Championships silver medallist Moses Mosop by two seconds in a close finish.
Kiplimo Kimutai, eleventh at this year’s cross country trials in Nairobi, completed the Kenyan sweep finishing third in 29:04 after leading for most of the race until the last lap. John Cheruiyot Korir, sixth in the 10,000 metres at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and fourth at the 2004 World Half Marathon Championships, took fourth place overhauling Chengere Tolossa in the final lap.
Mosop took the early lead in the first of eight laps of a loop circuit in an eight-men group. Soi chose a more conservative tactic running in the mid of the leading pack in the early stages of the race. Kimutai was in the front after the first lap followed by a group of African athletes. The only European athlete who managed to keep the pace with runners from Kenya and Ethiopia was Vasyl Matvichuk from Ukraine.
Chengere Tolossa from Ethiopia, Mosop, Soi and Korir pulled away from the rest of the group when they upped the pace clocking 3:35 during the third of eight laps. The quartet increased the pace clocking 3:28 in the fourth lap. Mosop went to the front briefly during the fifth lap with 3 km to go.
The race became a three-men fight with two laps to go with Kimutai continuing ahead of Mosop and Soi, running a 3:25 split for the penultimate lap.
After the bell the battle for the final win really hot up when Soi threw down the gauntlet to Mosop and Kimutai.
Soi launched his “trademark” kick in the final straight crossing the finish-line in 28:59 holding off Mosop by two seconds.
It was the last race for Soi before his return to Kenya tomorrow where he will begin his training for the summer season. He announced that he will kick off his track season in the Doha IAAF Super Grand Prix. During 2008, Soi took the honours at two top European cross country race in San Giorgio su Legnano and Fuensalida before running a 7:36.70 indoor PB in the 3000 metres in the Valencia meeting on the same track where he was later to finish fourth at this month’s World Indoor Championships.
“I really like running in Dongio. Wind and cold did not affect my race because I am used to training in these conditions when I am at home. I am not running in Edinburgh next weekend because I did not run at the Kenyan Trials. The Kenyan Federation asked me to compete at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia,” said Soi who took a double 3000-5000 metres win at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart.
“Fortunately my preparation (for Dongio) was not affected by the unrest in Kenya because at the time of the elections I was based in Europe. But my fellow athletes who remained in Kenya had a very difficult period,” concluded Soi.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Edwin Soi (Kenya) 28:59
2. Moses Mosop (Kenya) 29 :01
3. Kiplimo Kimutai (Kenya) 29:04
4. John Cheruiyot Korir (Kenya) 29:21
5. Chengere Tolossa (Ethiopia) 29:28
6. Vasyl Matvichuk (Ukraine) 29:31
7. John Kiprotich (Kenya) 29:53
8. Hamid El Muaziz (Morocco) 30:03
9. Solomon Tesfamariam (Eritrea)30:07
10. John Kamindo Wamai (Kenya)30:14