Julien Wanders broke his own European 10km record at the Corrida Pédestre Internationale de Houilles while Gete Alemayehu smashed the course record as the 47th edition of the IAAF Silver Label road race was held in perfect conditions on Sunday (30).
Wanders, who had been ill earlier this month, said before the race that he felt he could finish within 28 minutes if he could regain some freshness. He exceeded his expectations, though, as he took seven seconds off the European record he set in Durban in October to win in a course of 27:25.
From the gun, the Swiss runner set out at an aggressive pace and covered the first kilometre in 2:41, four seconds inside European record pace. He led a group of six runners that included Ethiopian duo Berehanu Tsegu and Haftu Teklu, Uganda’s Albert Chemutai and Kenya’s Cornelius Kangogo, winner of the event in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Tsegu took the lead from Wanders as the pack reached three kilometres in 8:12. The pace faded slightly leading up to the halfway point, which was reached in 13:47, but Wanders then decided to ramp up the tempo and the field broke up behind him. Only Tsegu was able to stick with Wanders’ relentless rhythm.
At about seven kilometres, with the bell ringing to signal it was the last of the race’s three laps, Wanders was running at 27:30 pace. The 22-year-old managed to press on with two kilometres remaining and forged ahead of Tsegu.
Wanders, continuing his impressive display of strength, sprinted hard in the closing stages to retain his title in 27:25, 37 seconds faster than his winning time last year and 22 seconds faster than the previous course record of 27:47 set by Imane Merga in 2010.
“My goal was to run at full gas,” said a delighted Wanders. “I didn’t use a watch because it slows down the rhythm.”
Tsegu finished runner-up in 27:36, 16 seconds ahead of Chemutai, both setting PBs.
Jimmy Gressier, the two-time European U23 cross-country champion, was the first Frenchman, finishing seventh in a French U23 record of 28:13.
While the men’s race was a clear-cut affair, the women’s contest was a close duel that went down to the wire.
Ethiopia’s Gete Alemayehu proved to be the strongest at the end as she just got the edge of compatriot Helen Tola. The 20-year-old won in 31:12 to take 55 seconds off her previous PB.
Tola, who clocked a marathon best of 2:22:48 in Berlin in September, finished just one second behind, three seconds better than her previous PB.
Susan Jeptoo rounded the podium in 32:34. Clémence Calvin, who reduced the French record to 31:20 earlier this year, finished ninth in a more modest 34:00.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF
1 Julien Wanders (SUI) 27:25
2 Berehanu Tsegu (ETH) 27:36
3 Albert Chemutai (UGA) 27:52
4 Filmon Ande (ERI) 27:57
5 Haftu Teklu (ETH) 28:09
1 Gete Alemayehu (ETH) 31:12
2 Helen Tola (ETH) 31:13
3 Susan Jeptoo (KEN) 32:34
4 Karolina Nadolska (POL) 32:44
5 Ophélie Claude-Boxberger (FRA) 32:50