American runners Tony Migliozzi and Camille Herron took the gold medals at the inaugural IAU 50km World Championships, crossing the line in 2:52:08 and 3:20:59 respectively on Friday (4).
The men’s race started with a big group of runners running in a pack from the start with Migliozzi, Kenyan trio of Arnold Kiptaoi, Samuel Ongaki and Charles Wachira, USA’s Tyler Andrews and Zimbabwe’s Michael Fokorani in the mix during the first half of the race.
On the fifth lap, Fokorani and Wachira started to put daylight between themselves and their rivals and passed the 25km mark in an unofficial halfway split of 1:25:57 with Migliozzi 16 seconds in arrears in third place and Kiptaoi another two seconds further back.
The leading pair stayed together for the next 10km, passing 35km in 1:58:31 and increasing their advantage slightly over Migliozzi to 20 seconds.
However, unlike his two African rivals, Migliozzi had timed his race to perfection and on the eight lap started to close and then overhauled Wachira and Fokorani, who were eventually to fall back to fourth and seventh respectively.
Migliozzi hit 40km in front in 2:16:38 with Wachira 10 seconds further back and the flagging Fokrani losing even more ground.
Over the final 10km, Migliozzi continued to maintain a fine pace, clocking 17:21 and 17:52 for the final two 5km laps on the Aspire grounds.
Migliozzi crossed the line in 2:52:08 to win by more than three minutes. Kiptaoi and Ongaki moved up in the final 5km, both men overtaking the struggling Wachira, to take second and third in 2:55:34 and 2:56:15 respectively and edge their compatriot out of the medals.
With three men in the top four, Kenya comfortably won the men’s team gold medals in an accumulated time of 8:49:09, USA second in 8:57:52 and Australia third 9:37:51.
One of the pre-race favourite, Zimbabwe’s Shingirai Badza, was part of the main leading group through to 15km but started to fall out of contention on the fourth lap and eventually finished a disappointing 15th.
Unlike Badza, in the women’s race Camille Herron certainly did like up to her pre-race billing and fulfil her role as favourite.
In sharp contrast to the men’s race, Herron taking an early lead never relinquishing it and increasing her advantage lap-by-lap. Consistently clocking under 20 minutes per lap over the first half of the race, she reached the 25km mark in 1:38:28
Caitlin Smith held second place throughout the first half of the race, but was almost two minutes adrift of her compatriot by 25km and soon started to pay the price for her audacious early effort, finally finishing sixth.
Even though Herron’s slowed down slightly over the second half of the race, her advantage over her rivals continued to grow by the lap but behind her a fascinating battle for the other medals was developing.
A four-woman group of Croatia’s Marija Vrajic, Canada’s Catrin Jones, Ireland’s Catriona Jennings and Mongolia’s Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh had been running together for the first half of the race and gradually reeled in Smith.
Shortly after 35km, Vrajic and Jones broke away and were still together well into the final lap, until Vrajic just managed to edged away and take the silver medal in 3:28:15 with Jones four seconds further back.
In the women’s team contest, Vrajic climbed the podium again after leading Croatia to the women’s team title with an accumulated time of 10:50:08. Canada took the silver in 11:10:41 and Australia was third in 11:31:40.
Phil Minshull and IAU for the IAAF