Belaynesh Oljira winning the 2014 Carrera de la Mujer in Bogota (© organisers)
Belaynesh Oljira will defend her title at the ninth edition of the Carrera de la Mujer in Bogota on Sunday (20), one of only two IAAF Gold Label Road Races in South America.
The 2013 world 10,000m bronze medallist has had a good year, if not spectacular, and will also try to improve on her course record in the 10km race staged in the Colombian capital’s Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar.
Last year, she clocked 33:52 – with Bogota being at 2625m altitude, which is higher than either Addis Ababa and Nairobi, fast times are never going to be an issue – after breaking away from her rivals just after eight kilometres.
In 2015, OIjira has finished ninth at both the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and then in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships, the latter being her most recent race, which suggests that she is the woman to beat although by no means an overwhelming favourite.
Second last year was Kenya’s 2005 world youth and 2006 world junior 3000m champion Veronica Nyaruai and she will also be returning to the race that she won in 2012.
In 2014, Nyaruai came home 27 seconds adrift of Oljira and obviously will want to turn the tables on her Ethiopian rival this time around.
She will also be racing for the first time since failing to finish in her national championships 10,000m in Nairobi in July, and so will be running in Bogota with something to prove.
Possibly, Oljira’s biggest challenge will, in fact, come from two of her compatriots.
Buze Diriba, the 2012 world junior 5000m champion, has had a series of good performances in top quality US road races in 2015 and earlier this year reduced her 10,000m best on the track to 31:33:27.
Misiker Mekonnin has been focusing on marathons this year and had two good outings in Mexican races over the classic distance, winning in Torrejon and finishing second in Mexico City so she is comfortable racing at high altitudes. She may not quite have the speed required for success over 10km, though.
Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu, an impressive 11th at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, is also in the field.
South American interest is likely to be led by Peru’s Ines Melchor, the South American marathon record-holder who ran 2:26:48 last year and who added to her list of accolades this summer with a 10,000m national record of 31:56.62 and a win at the Santiago de Chile Marathon in 2:28.18.
Melchor will be looking to bounce back after a bad time at the Pan American Games in July when she dropped out of the marathon and then could only finish fifth in the 10,000m, after going to Toronto as a potential medal contender in both events.
An estimated 18,000 women are expected to participate in the three main races on the day, which also includes a mixed 5km and a mothers and babies run.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF