A feast in store on Bangalore roads

Athletics: Ethiopians, Kenyans will be cynosure at the World 10K race today

A feast in store on Bangalore roads

Ethiopia against Kenya is an invitation no fan of distance running can resist. It will be no different here with seven Ethiopians and ten Kenyans featuring in a field of 23 in the elite men’s race. Twelve Ethiopians and five Kenyans line up in the women’s race, ensuring that Bangalore will  again have a top-notch contest in the second edition of the event.

Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, having a wonderful season, is the leading light in the men’s race but there is a clutch of runners in the field that can really push the 28-year-old hard, with the likes of Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, Rwandan Dieudonne Disi and Ugandan Boniface Kiprop all capable of coming up with quick times.

Merga is the winner of the Houston and Boston marathons this year. He was second behind Kipsang in the Ras-al-Khaimah half-marathon early this year, having beaten the Kenyan in the Delhi half-marathon last year. Merga also won the Ottawa 10K race last weekend in a personal best 27:23.9, while Kipsang has a best of 27:32 on the road.

Fatigue factor

It might not be a two-horse race but a Merga-Kipsang battle cannot be totally ruled out either, if the former overcomes the fatigue factor.

Merga brushed aside suggestions that he might be tired after so many races. “I am not tired at all, I am looking forward to tomorrow’s race,” said the Ethiopian, who plans to make a fast start.

“I want to run like a pace-maker in the first four kilometres and then try and maintain that advantage. I am confident that I can be the number one tomorrow,” said the Ethiopian.

Also lurking in a field top-heavy with Kenyans and Ethiopians is Tanzania’s Fabiano Joseph, who has the ability to surprise the leaders. A former world half-marathon champion, Joseph has been fighting injuries for the last two years but proved his fitness with a terrific pace-making job for Haile Gebrselassie in the Manchester 10K run two weeks back. “I am fit and ready now. Hopefully, I can do well here,” said Joseph.

Kibet favoured

The women’s race lost one of the favourites with Grace Momanyi, the defending champion, pulling out because of malaria. In her absence, Hilda Kibet of Holland starts the favourite, having timed 31:01 on the road over 10K. But Kenya’s Arusei Peninah (PB: 31:26) and Ethiopia’s Mergia Aselefech (PB 31:26) have the ability to trouble the Dutchwoman, both having experienced Indian conditions before. Mergia won the Delhi half-marathon last year while Peninah was third in that race.

“She has the ability to fly away at the start, leaving the others to do the catching-up job,” said race director Hugh Jones about the Kenyan, who was second in the World half-marathon championships last year.

“If she adopts such an approach and if someone can stay with her, well and good. Otherwise, the race can land in her pocket.”

Jones felt the weather could have a say on the timings here, even though the course is pretty flat this time. “It has become hotter over the last two days and in that case, you cannot expect fast timings,” he said. “But whatever the weather might be, one thing is sure, the contest will be a hard-fought one.”

World 10K Run factfile

* Events and timings: World 10K: Men: 7.10 am. Wheelchair event (4.4km): 7.15 am. Senior Citizen’s run (4.4km): 7.23 am. World 10K women: 8.00 am. Open 10K: 8.10 am. Majja run (5km): 9.00 am.

* Prize money: Total: $1,55,000..
Winners (Elite race):
I: $21000. II: $12000. 
III: $8000. IV: $6000.
V: $5000. VI: $4000.
VII: $3000. VIII: $2000.
IX: $1500. X: $1000.
Top Indians: I: Rs 50,000. II: Rs 40,000. III Rs 30,000. IV: Rs 20,000; V: Rs 10,000.

* Nation’s challenge: I: Rs 4.5 lakh. II: Rs 3.25 lakh. III: Rs 2,15,000. IV: Rs 1,10,000.

* Winners last year:
Elite men: Zersenay Tadesse (Eritria)
Elite women (joint-winners): Elvan Abeylegesse (Turkey) and Grace Momanyi (Kenya).
Indians: Men: Kashinath Aswale.
Women: Preethi L Rao.

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