Dorcas Kimeli wins the Ottawa 10k (Victah Sailer / organisers) © Copyright
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Weekend road round-up: Kimeli and Korir on top in Ottawa, Fikadu and Chelangat triumph in Okpekpe

Despite heavy rainfall, 21-year-old Dorcas Kimeli was first past the finish line at the Ottawa 10k on Saturday night (25), setting a PB of 31:09 at the IAAF Gold Label road race.

The Kenyan was at the front for most of the race, sharing the early spadework with her compatriots Valary Jemeli and Paskalia Kipkoech. After the first 5km was passed in a sedentary 15:57, one by one the pack was whittled down as Kimeli went to work.

Turning on to the final straight, only Jemeli was close and the gap between the two widened to the finish. Jemeli finished second in 31:12 which was also a personal best. Kipkoech came next in 31:30. The winner collected CDN$5000.

“This is my first time in Canada,” Kimeli acknowledged. “I was confident because of my training. I believed in myself and I won. I was thinking around 7km we would push and then go on to a good time. It was my plan.

“At first I was worried (about the competition) but when the race started I was confident and I dropped them one by one. I was thinking to win the race.”

Jemeli was gracious in second place and was clearly pleased with her effort which comes only 11 weeks after her third-place finish at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon.

“The pace was good because I have not done any 10k in Canada or anywhere,” Jemeli said. “I was thinking I might win the race but in the last stretch my leg was in pain and she passed me. But I am very happy; it’s my personal best.”

Equally important to the Ottawa victory was the ‘gender gap’ contest which saw the elite women set out 3:40 ahead of the elite men. Spectators could follow the race on a split screen television as the men chased the women.

The men’s pack quickly evolved into five runners at the front with three Moroccans – Mohammed Ziani, Mohamed Reda El Aaraby and Abderrahmane Kachir – running alongside Kenya’s Moses Kibet and Wilfrid Kimetei. Kibet did a lot of the early work, taking the pack through 5km in 14:19. Then Ziani went to the front a couple of times surging.

With two kilometres remaining it was the three Moroccans who appeared likely to fill the podium as Kibet and Kimetei went to the back. Kibet dropped well off the pace and out of contention but Kimetei had other ideas.

Ziani came around the final bend in front and sprinted away to a 28:12 victory. Kimitei finished four seconds behind with El Aaraby third in 28:22 and Kachir, racing for the first time outside Morocco, fourth in 28:33.

This was the second time Ziani has won the Ottawa 10km and he was pleased with his race today. However it was the second occasion where he has been unable to close the gap on the leading women. In 2016 it was Peres Jepchirchir who won the gender gap. Today Kimeli took the CDN$2000 gender gap bonus.

“First of all I am happy with my second victory here in Ottawa,” said Ziani, who has been fasting for Ramadan. “The rain was not a big problem. I had some good training so it’s not about the weather.

“At 9km I had the confidence that I would win and I increased my pace. I wasn’t worried. There were some very strong athletes though.”

“My body was not responding well so I was like jogging back so I could run at my own pace,” said Kimitei. “When they (the Moroccans) dropped their pace, that was the time I got those two guys.”

The Ottawa 10k once again served as the official Canadian championships. Natasha Wodak of Vancouver, a 2016 Olympian at 10,000m, was the first Canadian finishing seventh overall in 32:31. The men’s Canadian champion was Dylan Wykes, a 2012 Olympic marathon runner who was sixth overall in 29:56. The Canadian champions each earned CDN$3000.

Paul Gains for the IAAF

Korir and Girma emerge victorious at Ottawa Marathon

Albert Korir was the surprise winner of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on Sunday (26) as he battled a field befitting an IAAF Gold Label – not to mention unfavourable weather conditions – while Tigist Girma took the women’s title.

 

Albert Korir en route to the Ottawa Marathon title (Victah Sailer/organisers)Albert Korir en route to the Ottawa Marathon title (Victah Sailer/organisers) © Copyright

 

An overnight storm had left the air humid and temperatures of 17C at the 7:00am race start. Korir’s winning time of 2:08:03 was a personal best for the 25-year-old Kenyan father and it came after a serendipitous moment at 40km.

Korir and Ethiopia’s Aberu Kuma, who has a personal best of 2:05:50, were running side by side after dropping Ethiopia’s Tsedet Ayana, Kenya’s Martin Kosgey and Ethiopia’s Adugna Takele when Kuma came to a complete stop at the water station. Seizing the opportunity, the tall Kenyan took off and quickly opened up an insurmountable gap.

Kuma eventually finished second in 2:08:14 with Ayana completing the podium with 2:08:53.

“This is a great achievement. It is a dream,” said the winner. “Kuma is a strong guy, I didn’t know I would beat him. But at 40km I saw he somehow stopped so I made a move to go.

“It’s a dream. I was hoping to improve my personal best; I didn’t know that I could improve. The weather was good and the course is flat, good. The first half was hard (1:03:35) but when the pacemakers went out, the pace went down.”

This was the second victory this year for Korir. He was the Houston winner in January and now, understandably, he has huge ambitions.

“I have to improve my athletics career,” he offered, “at least win a World Major and have a better time, 2:04 or 2:03.”

If Kuma was disappointed, he masked it well. With a stellar career to date, he had been the favourite to win the race.

“At 35km I didn’t take any water and so I knew I must drink water at 40km,” he explained in English. “I take water – the guy’s gone. That’s my problem.

“The weather really affected my running.”

 

Tigist Girma winning the Ottawa Marathon (Victah Sailer/organisers)Tigist Girma winning the Ottawa Marathon (Victah Sailer/organisers) © Copyright

 

The women’s race resulted in another Ethiopian victory – the 10th consecutive time – with the ever improving Tigist Girma dropping her compatriots Bethelhem Moges and Etaferahu Temesgen at 28km. She and one of the elite women’s pacemakers opened up a gap and many observers wondered if she had moved too early.

Girma was full of confidence and ran across the line in a personal best of 2:26:34, throwing her arms up in the air in joyful celebration. She earned herself CDN$30,000.

Moges was next in 2:27:00 with Temesgen finishing in 2:28:44 for third.

“I was extremely ready for this race,” Girma declared. “I tried my best. Because I was all alone, I couldn’t push because the weather was not good so that’s why the time is slow. I really had good preparation.

“I have made progress so I am really happy. The difference is there are good competitors in Ottawa compared with my previous marathons. I was thinking the race could be competitive and that’s why I was happy.

Moges, who was third at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, had kept Girma in her sights for much of the last few kilometres and felt she had a good chance of closing ground.

“I was confident I would catch her until 33km but as there was a wind I was unable to. Tigist increased the gap,” explained Moges, who was fourth here last year.

“I felt that last year the weather was much better. There was humidity this year plus a wind. I ran a better time than last year. I was fourth last year and this year second and I ran a better time here, so I am happy with today’s performance.”

Paul Gains for the IAAF

Fikadu and Chelangat win in Okpekpe

Bahrain’s Dawit Fikadu and Kenya’s Sheila Chelangat emerged victorious at the Okpekpe Road Race on Saturday (25), winning the IAAF Silver Label 10km road race in a close finish.

Both races boasted stellar line-ups with many of the athletes boasting PBs significantly quicker than the course records of 28:35 and 32:41, but in humid conditions and on a hilly route not conducive to fast times, those mark remained intact for another year.

Fikadu, who won the Asian 10,000m title last month, was part of a large lead pack in the earlier stages alongside 2016 winner Alex Korio Oloitiptip and 2015 champion Simon Cheprot, both aiming to become the first two-time winners in Okpekpe.

The lead group passed through the half-way point in 14:13 and largely remained together for another few kilometres, but the pack started to break up as they began to ascend the uphill section for the final kilometre.

Bahrain's Dawit Fikadu in action (AFP / Getty Images)Bahrain's Dawit Fikadu in action (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright

 

As the group splintered, Fikadu, Korio, Ethiopia’s Berehanu Tsegu and Kenya’s John Kipsang Lotiang emerged as the lead quartet. But Korio soon dropped behind and was followed by Kipsang moments later, leaving Tsegu and Fikdau out in front.

With 27:30 on the clock, Tsegu tried to forge ahead but Fikadu stayed within striking distance and timed his final effort to perfection, kicking ahead to win by one second in 29:03. Kipsang held on for third place in 29:17 with Korio following one second later in fourth.

In the women’s race, Kenyan duo Sheila Chelangat and Dorcas Jepchirchir Tuitoek broke away from the rest of the field in the opening kilometres, reaching half way in 15:49.

They continued running side by side until the closing stages before Chelangat edged ahead on the final straight, crossing the line in 33:14. As a measure of how tough the Okpekpe course is, the 21-year-old was more than two minutes shy of the 31:01 PB she had set just eight weeks ago.

Tuitoek finished four seconds behind her compatriot in 33:18 and was followed by Ethiopia’s Asifa Kasegn, who finished fourth in 33:31.

Leading results

MEN
1 Dawit Fikadu (BRN) 29:03
2 Berehanu Tsegu (ETH) 29:04
3 John Kipsang Lotiang (KEN) 29:17
4 Alex Korio Oloitiptip (KEN) 29:18
5 Maxwell Rotich Kortek (UGA) 29:36
6 Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 29:37

WOMEN
1 Sheila Chelangat (KEN) 33:14
2 Dorcas Jepchirchir Tuitoek (KEN) 33:18
3 Asifa Kasegn (ETH) 33:31
4 Bezunesh Getachew (ETH) 33:41
5 Perine Nengkampi (KEN) 33:45
6 Sintayehu Lewetegn (ETH) 33:53