A Kenyan romp in Bangalore

A Kenyan romp in Bangalore

A Kenyan romp in Bangalore

Geoffrey Kipsang could have flown to the moon and returned had he wished for it today.

For a man who loves challenges, the Kenyan had more than his share to tackle in the TCS World 10K Bangalore on Sunday morning — humid weather, rough road, puddles along the way and a bunch of rivals eager to push him off the perch. More dauntingly stood Zersenay Tadese’s course record of 27:51, beckoning him to dig deep into his reserves. 

At the end of a punishing run, Kipsang had tackled them all with panache — the first man to win two titles here making the contest look like a stroll in the park. The world half-marathon champion and the winner here in 2012, Kipsang was hardly bothered by the opposition as he extended Kenya’s hold on the Elite men’s race in a new record of 27:44 seconds, slicing seven seconds from the previous mark set by the Eritrean master.

The fifth victory by a Kenyan man in seven editions was soon followed by the sound of more Kenyan successes in the women’s event, with Lucy Kabuu leading a sweep in another course record of 31:48, followed by compatriots Joyce Chepkirui and Linet Masai.

“The conditions were tough but I had trained hard for this race. I wanted to set a new course record and do better than what I did two years ago,” said the 21-year-old Kipsang, who is enhancing his reputation in the road running world with every race.
 The Kenyans performance on the day will certainly raise his stature, for such was the commanding nature of his victory. Overnight rain had brought the temperature down, still it wasn’t in the comfort levels desired by the runners, with the Elite races scheduled for a late start to accommodate the Open 10K race. As the bunch, led by pacemaker Daniel Salel, hit the road, Kipsang was at the forefront, with defending champion Alex Oloitiptip, Ethiopian Atanaw Kinde and Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei also prominent in the lead group.

Kipsang though seemed unhappy with the pace and shook off Salel just past the 4km mark. Oloitiptip, Kinde and Cheptegei followed, reaching the half-way mark in 13:57. As Oloitiptip began to fade, Kipsang took charge of the race past the 6km mark and pulled away, opening up a 10M lead. Kinde and Cheptegei just couldn’t match the speed of the Kenyan and from there on, there was only one winner.

Running towards the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Kipsang’s only worries were posed by the Open 10K runners who were still on the road. Avoiding them cost him valuable time, but still, he remained strong in the sprint to the finish, taking home the course record bonus of 7500 dollars apart from the winner’s cheque of 21,000 dollars.Cheptegei and Kinde followed him in that order, with the Ugandan debutant finishing 40 seconds behind Kipsang in 28:24. Kinde claimed the bronze for Ethiopia in 28:35 while Oloitiptip ended up sixth.

The women’s race was a closer affair, with Ethiopian Guteni Shone staying close to Kabuu, Chepkirui and Masai in the early part. But it had boiled down to a contest between Lucy and Joyce by the time the half-way mark was reached in 15:21. The two Kenyans went toe-to-toe for another couple of kilometres before Lucy decided to take over the reins. As the race entered the stadium, Lucy was a clear winner and all Joyce had to do was to protect her second place. With Linet well back, she accomplished that with ease. Lucy clipped ten seconds off the record of 31:58 set by Yimer Wude in 2010. “It feels good to win,” said Lucy. “I was fourth last year and that made me determined to work harder for success. I was scared other runners might catch up. I prayed to god to give me strength to ward them off and that helped me to stay really focused,” she said. The second-placed Chepkirui, who arrived only on Saturday after wining the New York 10K, also went under the course record, clocking 31:55, as the Kenyans celebrated for another year in Bangalore.

Elite Men, 10K: Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya) 27:44 (New Course Record. Old: 27.51, Zersenay Tadese, 2008), 1; Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) 28:24, 2; Kinde Atanaw (Ethiopia), 28:35, 3.

Indians: B C Tilak 30:26, 1; Anish Thapa 30:38, 2; Nitendra Singh Rawat 30:47, 3. Elite Women, 10K: Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) 31:48 (New Course Record. Old: 31:58, Yimer Wude, 2010), 1; Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya) 31:55, 2; Linet Masai (Kenya) 32:28, 3. Indians: Swati Gadhave 37:22, 1; Jayashree Boragee 37:35, 2; Supriya Patil 37:46, 3.