Third straight victory for Edwin Soi in Bolzano (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
General News 1 January 2010 – Bolzano, Italy

Three-peat for Soi in Bolzano

Bolzano, ItalyBolzano celebrated the 35th edition of the Boclassic New Year’s Eve race with two fantastic competitions which lived up to the tradition of this popular Northern Italian race despite a very cold and rainy day. About 10,000 people turned up in the fascinating Waltherplatz to attend a great afternoon of athletics.

Kenyan Edwin Soi, the Olympic bronze medallist in the 5000m in Beijing, scored a hat-trick by winning in Bolzano for the third consecutive year. Soi crossed the finish-line in 28:44 in the Waltherplatz Square holding off Imane Merga from Ethiopia by one second in the men’s 10 km race. Mo Farah from Great Britain, the European Indoor Champion in the 3000m, finished third four seconds behind Soi. Andrea Lalli, the 2008 European Cross Country Under 23 champion in Brussels and more recently winner on the same course in the Belgian capital two weeks ago on a snowy day, thrilled the Italian fans with a very good fifth place behind Kenyan Silan Kipruto, a promising runner with 7:32.25 and 13:02.86 PBs in the 3000m and 5000m respectively. 

In the women’s 5 km race 19-year-old Sule Utura from Ethiopia, the 2008 World junior champion in the 5000m, added her name to the prestigious list of past Boclassic winners. Utura beat Slovenian 1500m national record holder Sonja Roman by two seconds in 16:11. Christelle Daunay from France, third at this year’s New York City Marathon, went to the podium taking the third spot in 16:17.

Men’s race -

The men’s race again featured one of the best fields in the world for a New Year’s Eve race. Silas Kipruto was the first to take the early initiative during the second lap after the first lap was run at a conservative pace in 3:51. Kipruto took the lead with Merga and Soi. Kipruto took the lead ahead of the pair going through the second lap in 7:21 and the third lap in 10:54. Farah followed three seconds behind the leading trio in 10:57 after the first three laps.

During the fourth of eight laps the Boclassic race traditionally heats up when an intermediate sprint is launched to take the halfway 500 Euro bonus prize awarded by the organizers to the runner able to win the 5 km mark sprint. Merga, fourth at the World Championships in Berlin in the 10,000m and winner of the World Athletics Final 5000m title in Thessaloniki last summer, launched the sprint to snatch the bonus by a very close margin over of Kipruto. Merga and Kipruto went through the halfway mark in 14:27 followed by Soi two seconds adrift. Farah trailed five seconds behind but managed to close the gap on the African leading trio. Lalli battled it out against Ethiopian Tegegne Yirsaw Atalay for fifth place.

After the fifth lap Soi went to the lead closely trailed by Merga and Farah. Kipruto was dropped by about five seconds by the leading trio.

Soi broke away from Merga whose kick for the intermediate sprint probably took its toll. The Kenyan carved out a gap of five seconds during the sixth lap (21:37 to 21:42).

During the seventh lap Merga and Farah reduced their gap on Soi to three seconds (25:16 to 25:19). Merga, third at the Corrida of Houilles near Paris on Sunday, tried to launch his assault on Soi but the Kenyan held on to cross the finish line taking the win by one second. In the history of the Boclassic only Sergey Lebid took more wins in the Boclassic than Soi with five – in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Today Lebid was never a factor and finished a distant ninth.

“I won three times in Bolzano but today it was my hardest race here,” Soi said. “I knew that it would have been very difficult to repeat the wins in 2007 and 2008 against very strong rivals. I am preparing for the indoor season. The World Indoor Championships in Doha are my major goal for the winter season.”

“I am a bit disappointed because I came here to win,” Merga said.

Third place was special for Farah who produced another good performance in Italy.

“Italy is my lucky country,” said a smiling Farah. “I won the 5000m European Junior title in Grosseto, the European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano and the 3000m European Indoor Championships in Turin.”

“My next competition will be the Edinburgh Cross Country race on 9 January but my top goals for 2010 are the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the European Championships in Barcelona next summer.”

Women’s race -

During its 35 years, the Boclassic has often been a springboard race for future middle and long distance running stars. This year’s women’s competition was highlighted by an impressive front-running race by Ethiopian Utura, the reigning World Junior 5000m champion.

Utura, who was born in 1990, took the women’s 5 km race thanks to a decisive attack during the second lap. After going through the first of four laps in 4:07, Utura broke away from the rest of the field which featured Roman, a European Indoor bronze medallist in the 1500m in Turin last March; Daunay, the third place finisher at the New York and Paris marathons in 2009; and French 3000m Steeplechase specialist Sophie Duarte; and Aniko Kalovics of Hungary, winner of the Boclassic in 2006.

Utura increased the pace clocking 8:08 after two laps (4:01 split for the second lap). At halfway she increased her gap to 20 metres on the chasing pack formed by six women. Roman, who ran 4:02.13 in the 1500m during last summer’s track season, was the only runner who managed to keep up with Utura. After the bell Utura led over Roman by four seconds. The Slovenian tried to close the gap but the Ethiopian held on through to the finish line winning in 16:11 by two seconds over the Slovenian.

“I am very happy but it was a very hard race because it was very cold today,” Utura said. “I am not used to this kind of weather. I am aiming at taking part at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz in March.”

Utura ran 14:57.15 in the 5000m last summer, a year after emerging with her victory at the World junior championships where she beat her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba in the 5000m. She also won bronze in the 3000m at the 2007 World Youth Championships. Last weekend Utura won the Corrida of Houilles.

Roman was delighted with her second place showing. “I knew that I was in very good shape after training for three weeks in Portugal but I did not expect to finish second. I am planning to make my indoor debut in Karlsruhe. I will take part in five races before the World Indoor Championships in Doha,” said Roman.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Results from the 35th edition of the Boclassic in Bolzano:
Men’s race (10 km):
 1. Edwin Soi, KEN             28:44
 2. Imane Merga, ETH           28:45
 3. Mo Farah, GBR              28:48
 4. Silas Kipruto, KEN         29:25
 5. Andrea Lalli, ITA          29:33
 6. Tegegne Yirsaw Atalay, ETH 29:46
 7. Vasily Matvichuk, UKR      30:06
 8. Rachid Jammouni, MAR       30:11
 9. Sergey Lebid, UKR          30:18
10. Michael Skinner, GBR       30:23

Women’s race (5 km):
 1. Sule Utura, ETH               16:11
 2. Sonja Roman, SLO              16:13
 3. Christelle Daunay, FRA        16:17
 4. Sophie Duarte, FRA            16:22
 5. Aniko Kalovics, HUN           16:24
 6. Federica Dal Ri, ITA          16:26
 7. Hayley Yelling, GBR           16:39
 8. Analia Rosa, POR              16:43
 9. Agnes Tschurtschenthaler, ITA 16:48
10. Maria Sig Møller, DEN         16:53