Eritrea’s Nguse Tesfaldet Amlosom and Kenya’s Brigid Chepchirchir Kosgei captured commanding wins at Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Saturday (31) with Spain’s Ilias Fifa and Poland’s Karolina Nadolska pushing the respective victors until the finish line.
On a colder than expected night with the thermometer hardly reaching 2C, Chris Thompson was the early leader and the Briton had opened a 10-metre gap over his closest pursuers during the uphill stretch within the first kilometre.
Once he had been reeled in by the pack some 1600 metres into the race, Thompson, Jesús España and Adel Mechaal did most of the pacing duties while Amlosom ran in the middle of the pack. The 3km point was reached in 8:21 with Morocco’s Jaouad Tougane ruling the rhythm.
The leading pack went through the halfway point in 13:58 and no fewer than 12 athletes with winning chances still remained. The first key movement came with little more than three kilometres left when Amlosom injected a brisker pace which was only covered by Spain’s European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa.
The clock read 19:30 for the seventh kilometre split and it became clear that, barring disaster, either Amlosom or Fifa would be the eventual winner. The fight for the minor place on the podium also promised to be fierce as up to five athletes still had a chance in the guise of España, Díaz, Fifa, Abadía, Thomson and Lamdassem.
The two leaders took turns at the front until the ninth kilometre when the Eritrean broke away from the Spaniard to open a 15-metre gap. It appeared to all be over, but Fifa bounced back and managed to join Amlosom just entering the stadium of football club Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish capital’s southern suburbs.
Amlosom found another gear inside the stadium to finally prevail by two seconds over Fifa, 28:09 to 28:11. The 30-year-old became the second ever Eritrean to win the event after Zersenay Tadese’s victory back in 2010.
In a thrilling battle for third, European 10,000m bronze medallist Abadía managed to shake off his rivals to cross the line 17 seconds behind the winner but six seconds ahead of Díaz.
“Over the early stages I didn’t feel comfortable but after halfway I began to work properly,” said Madrid-based Amlosom. “Even when Fifa caught me before the final sprint, I was confident of my win, as I’m the African champion.”
Amlosom is not targeting the World Cross Country Championships. Instead, he aims to improve on his PB of 59:39 at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on 10 February before spending five or six weeks in his hometown. His main aim for the summer is to compete in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 before making his marathon debut in the autumn.
“When Amlosom broke away from me with ease with one kilometre left, I knew it would be difficult for me to win,” said Fifa. “I could join him then but I didn’t have any more energy in the tank for the final sprint. Anyway, I became European champion in the summer and today I managed a 10km PB so I can’t ask for more to the year 2016.”
Nadolska challenges Kosgei
Held jointly with the men’s contest, the women’s event offered an interesting duel between Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei and Poland’s Karolina Nadolska (nee Jarzynska).
Kosgei cruised through half way in 15:39 with the Pole some seven seconds in arrears, both well clear of France’s Liv Westphal in third.
Nadolska threatened the Kenyan’s lead throughout the second half but could not catch the favourite and had to settle for the runner-up spot barely six seconds adrift, 32:07 to 32:13. Westphal completed the podium in 32:42.
“I’m satisfied today, especially because it was my first ever 10km race,” said Kosgei. “I felt very cold during the race but could finally succeed. I won’t compete now until April when I’ll contest the Boston Marathon where I’ll be looking to lower my PB of 2:24:45.”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
1 Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 28:09
2 Ilias Fifa (ESP) 28:11
3 Toni Abadía (ESP) 28:26
4 Carlos Díaz (CHI) 28:32
5 Chris Thomson (GBR) 28:33
6 Ayad Lamdassen (ESP) 28:34
7 Jesús España (ESP) 28:36
8 Donn Cabral (USA) 28:53
9 Daniel Mateo (ESP) 29:07
10 Alberto Sánchez (ESP) 29:16
1 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 32:07
2 Karolina Nadolska (POL) 32:13
3 Liv Westphal (FRA) 32:42
4 Azucena Díaz (ESP) 33:08
5 Gema Martín (ESP) 33:18
6 Nuria Fernández (ESP) 33:36
7 Blanca Fernández (ESP) 33:45
8 Alessandra Aguilar (ESP) 33:38
9 Solange Pereira (ESP) 33:52
10 María José Pérez (ESP) 33:53