Kenya’s Cornelius Kangogo regained the title he won in 2013 at the 44th edition of the Corrida Pedestre International de Houilles, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, covering the 10km course in the north western suburbs of Paris in 28:10 on Sunday (27).
Kangogo sprinted away from his last remaining rival, Haymanot Alewe, with barely 100 metres remaining and the Ethiopian had to settle for the runners up spot, one second in arrears.
The large leading pack of around 20 runners passed the first kilometre in 2:52, a relative modest pace for the opening stages in Houilles.
The group carried on at this rhythm, going through 2km in 5:46 and then 3km in 8:36. The leaders reached the 5km checkpoint in 14:17, which meant by this stage that the course record of 27:47, set by Imane Merga in 2010, almost certainly would not be improved upon.
After hitting the halfway point, Kangogo then decided to use his experience of the course and started to push the pace.
The leading group was quickly whittled down to six men: Kangogo, Alewe, Uganda’s Abdallah Kibet Mande, Kenya’s Elijah Tirop and his compatriots Micah Kogo and Victor Chumo, both men being past winners of the race and the latter the defending champion from 12 months ago.
At the bell – Houilles is a flat three-lap course –, Tirop, the runner-up at the 2015 Nice Half Marathon in a PB of 1:00:55, was the first to start to struggle, followed quickly by Kogo.
With two kilometres to go, Alewe, who won the cross ‘Sud Ouest’ near Bordeaux in November, made a move and the 2014 winner Chumo was the next man unable to sustain the pace.
With three men remaining in contention – Alewe, Mande and Kangogo – it was the Kenyan who pushed hard in the last kilometre to drop his two rivals.
However, there was almost a dramatic ending to the race as 300 metres from home Kangogo started to celebrate prematurely.
Alewe managed to close down on Kangogo before latter recognised the danger and sprinted away again.
The winner ran the second half of the race in 13:53, 24 seconds quicker than the sedentary first half.
“I won in 2013 and I was fifth last year, so I’m very happy to win again. My tactic was to run on the front to control the race,” said Kangogo.
Behind the leading pair, Mande completed the podium in third place in 28:20, with Kogo fourth in 28:30 and Chumo fifth in 28:39.The first Frenchman home was Yohan Durand, who placed eighth in 29:12.
Ethiopia did take the honours in the women’s race with 18-year-old Zerfie Limeneh crossing the line in 32:07 for her first international win on any surface.
From the gun, a group of five women detached itself from the rest of the pack with Limeneh and Uganda's Stella Chesang accompanied by Kenyans Linah Cheruto and Nancy Kimaiyo as well as Ethiopia’s Meskerem Amare.
Kimaiyo, who won the 20km de Paris two months ago, was soon to fall back but the other four remained together until the final kilometre.
Limeneh then increased the pace in the closing stages of the race and pulled away from her rivals with Chesang, another teenager, three seconds in arrears while Cheruto took third in 32:15,
France's 2014 European marathon champion Christelle Daunay placed sixth in 32:57 but admitted alter that she hasn’t completely recovered from the combined effects of running the New York Marathon in November, when she finished fifth in 2:26:57, and the European Cross Country Championships two weeks ago, when she was 18th.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF