Dongio, SwitzerlandThe 2005 World Cross Country silver medallist Alice Timbilili from Kenya yesterday clinched her second consecutive win in the 5km road race at the Grand Prix Media Blenio which is traditionally scheduled the day after Easter. The 10km men's race featured a surprising win by the Kenyan Paul Kimugul over the 1999 and 2003 World Cross Country second placer Patrick Ivuti.
The former three-time Boston Marathon winner Cosmas Ndeti was the starter of the 21st edition of this fascinating swiss race in Dongio. The men and women’s contests started together with the race course following a loop circuit which was followed eight times by the men and four times by the women.
Timbilili, who clinched a World silver last weekend in the long race behind the young Ethiopian star Tirunesh Dibaba, took a gun to tape win. From the early stages of the race the Kenyan pulled clear from the rest of the women's field which included compatriots Irene Kwambai and Rose Jepchumba and Uganda's Dorcus Inzikuru.
In the penultimate lap Kwambai slightly closed the gap, but the in-form Timbilili had built up a solid margin in the previous laps, which was enough to grab an easy win in 15:31 over Kwambai (15:38) and Inzikuru (15:59).
"I am happy with my second win in the Media Blenio in my last race before returning to Kenya,”said Timbilili. “I did my best to win last week in St.Galmier but Tirunesh Dibaba was too strong for me. But the second place in the World Cross Championships is a good result for me. Now I will prepare for the 3000 and the 5000 metres on the track. This summer I want to lower my PBs and make the team at the World Championships in Helsinki.”
Paul Kimugul produced the major upset of the day with an outstanding win in 28:35, 18 seconds faster than Patrick Ivuti who ran an encouraging race in his come-back after recovering from a muscle injury. Eliud Kirui, sixth at the 2004 World Cross Country Championships in the short race in Brussels, completed the Kenyan sweep with the third place in 29:00.
Kimugul stayed in the leading pack from the early stages of the race. The Kenyan swapped first position with Wilson Businei and Eliud Kirui in the first laps, with the contest reaching its climax during the fifth lap when Kirui, Kimugul, Ivuti and Businei pulled away from the rest of the group. With two laps to go Kimugul launched his decisive attack and dropped Kirui. Ivuti produced a remarkable last lap. He managed to overhaul Kirui to clinch second place.
Kimugul crossed the finish-line in in 28:35, fifteen seconds off the course record set by the two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie who won the Media Blenio ahead of his big rival Paul Tergat in 1995. Kimugul is a trainingpartner of Tergat who won the Media Blenio three times in 1993, 1996 and 1997.
"My training partner Tergat taught me not to fear anybody during a competition. It was a bit cool but I was sure that I could win in Media Blenio. I did not make the Kenyan team for St. Galmier because I finished tenth at the Trials after sustaining a minor injury", said Kimugul.
Ivuti was happy after his performance at the Media Blenio: "I have come back from an injury which forced me to start training very late in the season. I don't expect a fast time at the Berlin Half Marathon (2 April) which is in my next race but I am confident that I will peak my form in the second half of the year", said Ivuti.
Illustrious race history
Apart from the big names of Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie the Giro Media Blenio boasts a proud history which began in 1985 to celebrate the Olympic silver medal in the 5000 metres of the swiss star Markus Ryffel in Los Angeles 1984. Ryffel won the Media Blenio in 1986 and the long list of big athletes who took the honours in Dongio also includes the former 10,000 metres World record holder William Sigei (winner in 1994), the London and Chicago marathon winner Evans Rutto (1999), the former World 5000 metres champion Richard Limo (2004).
The women's race honours roll is highlighted by the names of Ethiopian cross country star Merima Denboba (two-time winner in 1994 and 2002), the reigning World 10000 metres champion Berhane Adere (1998), and the Athens Olympic 5000 metres silver medallist Isabella Ochichi (2001).
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Men (10 km):
1 Paul Kimugul (Kenya) 28:35
2 Patrick Ivuti (Kenya) 28:53
3 Eliud Kirui (Kenya) 29:00
4 Wilson Businei (Uganda) 29:13
5 Peter Chebet (Kenya) 29:26
6 Hosea Macharinyang (Kenya) 29:29
7 Giuliano Battocletti (Italy) 29:35
8 Vasyl Matvichuk (Ukraine) 29:37
9 Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 29:59
10 Abraham Tadese (Eritrea) 30:20
Women (5 km):
1 Alice Timbilili (Kenya) 15:31
2 Irene Kwambai (Kenya) 15:38
3 Dorcus Inzikuru (Uganda) 15:59
4 Rose Jepchumba (Kenya) 16:02
5 Jebet Lagat (Kenya) 16:11
6 Beatrice Chebusit (Kenya) 16:20
7 Catherine Kirui (Kenya) 16:50
8 Silvia La Barbera (Italy) 17:04
9 Rosita Rota Gelpi (Italy) 17:14
10 Irina Dobrynina (Russia) 17:31