Titus Mbishei confirmed his status as favourite for the Marseilles-Cassis 20km, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, with the Kenyan winning over the undulating course through the mountains alongside France’s Mediterranean coast in 59:12 on Sunday (26).
Mbishei thwarted the hopes of Mule Wasihum at achieving a rare back-to-back set of victories at the race and Ethiopia’s 2013 winner had to settle for second place on this occasion in 59:22.
The Kenyan dictated the pace in the second half of the race and with a kilometre to go, the 2008 world junior 10,000m silver medallist only had Wasihum for company.
However, with just over 500 metres to go, he went through the gears and sped away from his rival, arms pumping hard like a 1500m runner hearing the bell, and a tired Wasihum had no answer to the burst of speed.
“My intention was to come here and win, and I’ve won," said Mbishei. "When we started the race I realised that this guy (Wasihum) is very strong but he did not want to help me with the pace, he wanted to stay behind me."
“I had to calculate when to push, when to pull away from him,” he added.
It had been a great eight days for Mbishei, firstly slashing his half marathon personal best by more than a minute when he clocked 59:55 for fourth place in Valencia last Sunday, and now triumphing in 36th edition of the historic French race.
Following the leading pair home in a good quality race, Kenya’s Isaac Langat and Uganda’s Solomon Mutai clocked 59:36 and 59:42 for third and fourth respectively.
Unlike her compatriot Mbishei, Peris Chepchirchir is a relative newcomer to international racing but the 21-year-old Kenyan is making an impact on the French roads this autumn.
In her first ever half marathon last month in Montbeliard, she pulled off a surprise victory in 1:09:12. In Cassis she showed it was no fluke and she made it two wins in a row when she crossed the line in 1:10:04 to become the fifth different Kenyan woman to win the race in as many years.
She was a comfortable winner and came home more than a minute ahead of her nearest opponent, Ethiopia’s Bekelech Daba, who was second in 1:11:25.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF