Yalemzerf Yehualaw wins the 10km Valencia Ibercaja (© Organisers)
Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw clocked 29:19 at the Valencia 10K Ibercaja to come within five seconds of her own world record, while Kenya’s Weldon Kipkirui Langat won in 26:55 in a thrilling finish against compatriot Charles Langat at the World Athletics Label road race in the Spanish city on Sunday (15).
Paced by her compatriots Genetu Molalign Yehualaw and Tolcha Guta Beyene, Yehualaw opted for a conservative start, unlike last year in Castellón when she set the current world record of 29:14. The opening 2km was covered in 5:56 with Kenya’s Jesca Chelangat still running at Yehualaw’s shoulder.
The pace increased slightly in the third kilometre as they reached 3km in 8:51; shortly afterwards Chelangat began to lose ground on Yehualaw as the Ethiopian passed through 4km alone in 11:52, a strong headwind contributing to the slowest kilometre of the race. The world half marathon bronze medallist went through halfway in 14:47, 19 seconds down on her half-way split from her world record run.
Chelangat was eight seconds behind the leader at half way, but a comfortable nine seconds ahead of Uganda’s Sarah Chelangat. Kenyan duo Esther Borura and Naomi Chpngeno were another five seconds adrift (15:09).
Yehualaw increased her pace during the second half, covering most kilometres in 2:53-2:54 and reaching 8km in 23:29. After another swift 2:53 kilometre, the Ethiopian was unable to maintain that same cadence over the final kilometre but still held on to finish in 29:19, the second-fastest 10km performance in history.
Further back, Jeska Chelangat finished just outside the 30-minute barrier (30:01) with Borura completing a quality podium in 30:15. Sarah Chelangat set a Ugandan record of 30:24 in fourth, 16 seconds ahead of Chepngeno (30:40). Britain’s Samantha Harrison was sixth in 30:51.
The 23-year-old Yehualaw commented she was a bit disappointed for not having broken the world record but satisfied with her brave effort.
The men’s race kicked off at a relatively brisk pace, the opening kilometres covered in 2:38 and 2:39. The pacemaker dropped out just before the 3km (7:57) and the pace decreased slightly, so Lagat and Kenya’s world 5000m silver medallist Jacob Krop moved to the front in a bid to keep the pace alive. By halfway (13:30), nine men were still in contention for victory.
Despite the annoying headwind over the following kilometres, Krop and Langat managed to maintain a swift cadence in the 2:43/2:45 kilometre range, with Charles Langat always tucked behind them. During the long final straight, Charles Langat tried to overtake Weldon Langat but the latter held off his challenge and crossed the line victorious in 26:55 to equal his PB.
Charles Langat set a massive lifetime best of 26:57 while Daniel Kosen took third in 27:01, an 18-second improvement on his career best. Burundi’s Rodrigue Kwizera placed fourth (27:04) and Krop was given the same time for fifth.
“I’m delighted with my win,” said Langat. “I pushed hard throughout, looking for a fast time, and my tactic paid off.”
Langat missed out on making the Kenyan team for the World Cross Country Championships, so his next outing will be at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on 18 February. He’ll then turn his attention to making the Kenyan 10,000m team for the World Championships in Budapest.
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
1 Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) 29:19
2 Jesca Chelangat (KEN) 30:01
3 Esther Borura (KEN) 30:15
4 Sarah Chelangat (UGA) 30:24
5 Naomi Chepngeno (KEN) 30:40
6 Samantha Harrison (GBR) 30:51
7 Vicoty Chepngeno (KEN) 31:05
8 Brenda Tuwei (KEN) 31:20
9 Stella Chesang (UGA) 31:33
10 Alemaz Samuel Teshale (ETH) 31:39
1 Weldon Langat (KEN) 26:55
2 Charles Langat (KEN) 26:57
3 Daniel Kosen (KEN) 27:01
4 Rodrigue Kwizera (BDI) 27:04
5 Jacob Krop (KEN) 27:04
6 Rogers Kibet (UGA) 27:07
7 Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu (SSD) 27:09
8 Laban Kiplimo (KEN) 27:15
9 Richard Kimunyan Yator (KEN) 27:32
10 Isaac Kipkemboi (KEN) 27:34