Tantalizingly close! Mestawat Tufa misses 15 km World record by just two seconds in Nijmegen (Zevenheuvelenloop organisers) © Copyright
General News Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Tufa just shy of 15Km World record in Nijmegen - UPDATED

Ethiopians Mestawat Tufa and Ayele Abshiro were the winners of the 25th edition of the Fortis Zevenheuvelen loop (Seven hills run), an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, in Nijmegen.

Tufa won the women's race in 46:57, missing by two seconds the 46:55 World record over the distance which was set by Japanese Kayoko Fukushi in Marugame on 5 February 2006.

Tufa was a class of her own. The Ethiopian was after five kilometres already way ahead of her nearest opponents. She passed five km in 15:55, with Martha Komu already nearly half a minute (16:21) back. At 10 kms Tufa clocked 31:31 while Komu passed later in 33:16. Tufa finished 21st overall.

Tufa was well ahead of her nearest female opponent, Martha Komu of Kenya, who came home second in 50:07, more than three minutes behind.

Abshiro clocked 42:17 in winning the men's race. He was well outside the World record of 41:29, which Felix Limo of Kenya set seven years ago (11 Nov 2001) on the Nijmegen course. Abshiro outsprinted Isaac Kiprono of Uganda by four seconds. Hot favourite Kenenisa Bekele finished third in 43:41.

Ankle injury slows Bekele

The Ethiopian Olympic double champion (5000 and 10,000m) however had an excuse. Two days before the race it became clear that he had an ankle injury. Although he was advised not to run Bekele decided to start anyway. From the beginning he was in the leading group of four which further consisted of Abshiro, Kiprop and his younger brother, Tariku Bekele.

Kiprop passed the 5 kilometre marker in 14:08 with the other three two seconds behind. On the way to 10 kilometres Bekele left his opponents and passed 10 kilometres in 27:56, fifteen seconds ahead of Kiprop and 17 seconds in front of the eventual winner Abshiro. But just after 11 kilometres Bekele felt his injured ankle protest. He decided to calm down and was passed by Abshiro and Kiprop. In the latter stages of the race Abshiro outsprinted Kiprop to take the victory.

Over 31,000 runners took part, running in mild autumnal conditions.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF

Leading Results - CORRECTED to reflect 'gun times'

(gun times) -
 1. Ayele Abshiro, 28-Dec-1990, ETH  42:17 PB
 2. Isaac Kiprop, UGA 42:21 PB
 3. Kenenisa Bekele, ETH 43:42
 4. Tariku Bekele, ETH 44:04 DB
 5. Dennis Licht, NED 44:08
 6. Saji Bouazza, MAR 44:08
 7. Stefano Baldini, ITA 44:10
 8. Simon Munyutu, FRA 44:15
 9. Patrick Stitzinger, NED 44:19
10. Nordin Athamna, ALG 45:19
11. Marco Gielen, NED 45:21
12. Larbi Es Sraidi, FRA 45:36

WOMEN (gun times) -
 1. Mestawet Tufa, ETH  46:57 CR*
 (5 km splits: 15:55-31:31)
 2. Martha Komu, KEN 50:07
 3. Gladys Otero, KEN 50:36
 4. Beata Rakonczai, HUN  50:51
 5. Miranda Boonstra, NED 51:19
 6. Massila Ndunge, KEN 52:17
 7. Paula Todoran, ROU 52:25
 8. Ilse Pol, NED 52:31
 9. Corine Spaans, NED 54:37
10. Nadja Wijenberg (40+), NED 55:11
*Course record; previous 47:02 (47:01.9), Lydia Cheromei (KEN), 2004