It may have been just her second race at the distance, but Gelete Burka tackled the 10,000m in Hengelo as though she had been running it all of her life, winning the Ethiopian World Championships trial race in a world-leading 30:49.68.
Muktar Edris – who, like Burka, was tackling the 10,000m for just the second time in his career – won the men’s race in 27:17.18, booking his spot on Ethiopia’s team for the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
The lead pack in the women’s race was paced through 5000m in 15:33. Burka was one of nine Ethiopians in the group along with Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat, the world half-marathon record-holder. They passed through 7000m in 21:46, but Kiplagat dropped out soon after.
About one kilometre later, the lead pack had been reduced to seven athletes: Burka, world junior 5000m champion Alemitu Heroye, world 10,000m bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira, 2010 Dubai Marathon champion Mamitu Daska, 2009 world 10,000m bronze medallist Wude Ayalew, world cross-country bronze medallist Netsanet Gudeta and Ethiopian cross-country champion Genet Yalew.
Wude tried to attack with three laps remaining, but all seven athletes were still close together at 9000m. In the end, Burka proved to have the better finish, kicking away from the rest of the field to win in a stadium record of 30:49.68.
The previous stadium record had been set by Liz McColgan, just two months before going on to win the world 10,000m title in 1991. Burka also improved on her own world-leading mark of 31:08.16 which she set on her debut at the distance in Stanford in April.
Burka last represented Ethiopia at a major championships in 2012, finishing fifth in the 5000m at the London 2012 Olympics. She has previously won global championship medals at 1500m, 3000m and at cross country. And now, at this year’s IAAF World Championships, she will represent her country at a distance in which she is undefeated.
In second, Heroye clocked 30:50.83 on her 10,000m debut, just one month after turning 20. She finished almost three seconds ahead of Oljira, who ran 30:53.69. In fourth, Daska was rewarded with a PB of 30:55.56.
Along with Kiplagat, 2009 world silver medallist Meselech Melkamu was among the non-finishers.
The men’s race played out in much the same way.
Pace makers led the field through 3000m in 8:15 and half way in 13:43, after which the pace increased and they passed 7000m in 19:10.
Ibrahim Jeilan, the 2011 world 10,000m champion and reigning world silver medallist, then dropped out, leaving just nine men in the lead pack.
The leaders then went through 8000m in 21:56 and with two laps remaining there were seven men in contention: 2012 world junior 5000m champion Edris, 2011 world cross-country champion Imane Merga, RAK Half Marathon champion Mosinet Geremew, road-running specialist Adugna Tekele, African Championships fourth-place finisher Tebalu Zawude, Ethiopian cross-country champion Tamirat Tola and Rio Half Marathon winner Leul Gebresilase.
Showing the kind of kick that brought him to a world-leading 5000m time of 12:54.83 in 2014, Edris forged ahead to win in 27:17.18, smashing the PB of 28:44.95 he set as a 17-year-old when finishing fourth at the 2011 African Junior Championships.
Having represented Ethiopia in the 10,000m at the past three editions of the World Championships – and taking bronze in 2011 – Merga put himself in the frame for selection for Beijing by finishing second in 27:17.63.
Geremew, running his first ever 10,000m, was third in 27:18.86. Tekele (27:19.34) and Zawude (27:20.54) both smashed their PBs, while Tola, another 10,000m debutant, clocked 27:22.64 in sixth.
Along with Jeilan, Olympic bronze medallist Tariku Bekele failed to finish. It means two of Ethiopia’s reigning global medallists at the distance are unlikely to be selected for Beijing.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
1 Muktar Edris 27:17.18
2 Imane Merga 27:17.63
3 Mosinet Geremew 27:18.86
4 Adugna Tekele 27:19.34
5 Tebalu Zawude 27:20.54
6 Tamirat Tola 27:22.64
7 Leul Gebresilase 27:22.89
8 Azmeraw Mengistu 27:33.82
9 Yitayal Atnafu 27:50.70
10 Yigrem Demelash 28:18.03
1 Gelete Burka 30:49.68
2 Alemitu Heroye 30:50.83
3 Belaynesh Oljira 30:53.69
4 Mamitu Daska 30:55.56
5 Wude Ayalew 30:58.03
6 Netsanet Gudeta 31:06.53
7 Genet Yalew 31:08.82
8 Ababel Yeshaneh 31:23.60
9 Sule Utura 31:57.85