Agnes Tirop wins the BoClassic in Bolzano (© Organisers / Roberto Passerini)
World cross-country champion Agnes Tirop and world cross-country bronze medallist Muktar Edris triumphed at the Boclassic Sylvesterlauf in Bolzano on a sunny but cold afternoon on New Year’s Eve (31).
Tirop edged world 10,000m silver medallist Gelete Burka by five seconds to take the women’s 5km race in 15:44, while Edris held off his compatriot Imane Merga by two seconds to take the second win of his career in Bolzano in 28:52.
In the women’s 5km, Tirop, Burka, Etenesh Diro and Stephanie Twell broke away during the second lap. By half way, reached in 8:09, European 5000m bronze medallist Twell had fallen adrift by two seconds.
Tirop and Burka increased their pace, pulling away from Diro on the third lap. Burka tried to resist to Tirop’s fierce pace but could not respond to the Kenyan’s decisive kick on the final lap. Tirop crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of Burka in 15:44, the second-fastest performance in the history of the Boclassic.
Steeplechase specialist Diro, who finished sixth at the London 2012 Olympic Games and fifth at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013, took third place in 16:18, 10 seconds ahead of Twell.
“I found totally different conditions compared to the weather in Kenya,” said Tirop. “It was very cold. I did not expect to beat Burka. I have one more cross-country race in San Giorgio su Legnano on 6 January before returning home to prepare for the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala.”
Repeat of 2014
Seven runners – Edris, Merga, Thomas Longosiwa, Abraham Tadesse, Jairus Birech, Aziz Lahbabi and Marouan Razine – formed the front group that covered the first three laps in 10:51.
Following a relatively slow first half, Edris and Birech took the initiative and hit the front during the sixth lap with Lahbabi and Longosiwa on their heels. Merga, meanwhile, chose a more conservative tactic and stayed at the back of the lead group in fifth place.
The front group was whittled down to four runners with one lap to go, when Edris, Merga, Longosiwa and Birech broke away from Tadesse and Lahbabi.
The race came down to a final sprint between Edris and three-time winner Merga. Edris launched his kick during the final lap near the railway station but Merga could not respond and, in a repeat of the 2014 edition, settled for second place behind his compatriot.
Two-time steeplechase Diamond Race winner Birech finished third in 28:57, three seconds ahead of Longosiwa.
“I came to Bolzano to win this race for the second time in my career,” said Edris. “It was not an easy race as it was very cold. I was waiting for Merga’s usual final kick but it did not happen, so I launched my attack. My next big goals are the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala and the 5000m at the World Championships in London, but first I will run in San Giorgio su Legnano for the Campaccio.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Muktar Edris (ETH) 28:52
2 Imane Merga (ETH) 28:54
3 Jairus Birech (KEN) 28:57
4 Thomas Longosiwa (KEN) 29:00
5 Abraham Tadesse (SUI) 29:07
6 Aziz Lahbabi (MAR) 29:17
7 Yeman Crippa (ITA) 29:56
8 Jonathan Mellor (GBR) 30:00
9 Abdelati Meftah (FRA) 30:02
10 Marouan Razine (ITA) 30:02
1 Agnes Tirop (KEN) 15:44
2 Gelete Burka (ETH) 15:49
3 Etenesh Diro (ETH) 16:18
4 Stephanie Twell (GBR) 16:28
5 Elinor Kirk (GBR) 16:32
6 Giulia Viola (ITA) 16:56
7 Lauren Howarth (GBR) 17:05
8 Maia Neunschwander (SUI) 17:10
9 Elisa Bortoli (ITA) 17:13
10 Federica Dal Ri (ITA) 17:16