Gritty Geremew retains title

Gritty Geremew retains title

Ethiopian keeps Kenyans at bay to emerge champ; Peres wins women's race

Gritty Geremew retains title

It was bright, sunny and hot, far outside his comfort zone. The Kenyans chased him hard and true, forcing him to dig deep. With a kilometre to go, he wasn’t even the leader but Mosinet Geremew knew exactly how to crack the code of the streets of Bengaluru.

The reigning champion at the TCS World 10K, Geremew repeated his tactics from last year to perfection on Sunday morning to become the first to defend his title in the Elite Men’s race. The Kenyans, on a mission to regain their prime position here, were left frustrated again as the young Ethiopian made a terrific statement.

His time of 28:36 was far from impressive but in a race where the weather conditions posed a hard challenge, the result was worth every penny of the $23,000 top prize. Geremew’s late burst left Kenya’s John Langat (28:37) in second place while Bonsa Dida, another Ethiopian, was third in 28:42.

Licking the wounds on their pride in the men’s event, Kenya had the solace of regaining the Elite Women’s crown through their rising young talent, Peres Jepchirchir. Running in harsher weather conditions, Peres outwitted her experienced counterpart and former champion Helah Kiprop to top the field in 32:15. Kiprop’s second place came in 32:28 while Ethiopia’s Wude Yimer was third in 32:33.

“It was hot, very, very hot. I have never run in such conditions,” said Geremew. “The Elite races should start early,” the 24-year-old stressed. The feeling was echoed by the women winners as well. In fact, the weather took its toll on Kenyan Gladys Chesir, who suffered a heat stroke and collapsed nearing the finish. She was later declared out of danger.

Geremew was never in any danger. The harder it got, the tougher he proved in a race where no one, barring another Ethiopian Mule Wasihun, wanted to push the pace.

In a daring surge, Wasihun took off after three kilometres, gradually building up a huge lead. At one point, he was ahead by more than fifty metres but he took a wrong direction near the Queen’s statue and had to retrace his steps. Still in comfortable lead, he was furiously chased by a dog before weariness had its say. 

Geremew, journeying along in the company of Kenyans Langat, Nicholas Rotich, Alex Korio and Geoffrey Korir, made his move past the eight kilometres, swinging to second place. The real push came after the nine kilometre mark and he entered the stadium with Langat hot on his heels. Chased hard by the Kenyan, Geremew found enough reserves of strength to ward him off in an exciting sprint to the tape. 

“After 9km, I still felt strong,” said Geremew. “I was sure I will win right at that point.”

Peres had her nose in front all the time in the women’s race, placed in the leading bunch comprising Kiprop, Wude and Chesir after the 6km-mark. The World Half-Marathon champion increased the tempo after eight kilometres, leaving daylight between her and her rivals. Her win was a foregone conclusion before the runners entered the stadium. 

“After three kilometres, I looked at the watch and found that the going was slow. At that pace, I could have finished in some 35 minutes, so I decided to raise the pace,” said Peres. “If the weather was good, we could have run 31 or even 30-plus.”

Kiprop, champion in 2012 and a familiar face here, relied on her expereince to seal the second spot. Wude, the 2010 champion, ensured Ethiopia had a place on the podium. All three medallists had one plea to the organisers: “Please start the races early.”

Results: Elite Men: Mosinet Geremew (Ethiopia) 28:36, 1; John Langat (Kenya) 28:37, 2; Bonsa Dida (Ethiopia) 28:42, 3.

Elite Women: Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) 32:15, 1; Helah Kiprop (Kenya) 32:28, 2; Wude Yimer (Ethiopia) 32:33.

Indians, Men: G Lakshmanan 30:34, 1; Suresh Patel 30:36, 2; Nitendra Singh Rawat 30:53, 3.

Women: Swati Gadhave 34:45, 1; Sanjeevani Jadhav 36:13, 2; Meenu 37:18, 3.