Report31 Dec 2020

New Year's road round-up: Kipkemboi and Chelimo win in Bolzano, Dibaba and Obiri victorious in Barcelona


Margaret Kipkemboi winning the 2020 BoClassic (© Organisers/Mosna)

Kenya’s Margaret Kipkemboi and Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo won the 46th edition of the Boclassic Alto Adige in Bolzano, Italy, a World Athletics Bronze Label race on Thursday (31).

The special edition of the classic New Year’s Eve race was not held over the usual picturesque course through the centre of this northern Italian town, but instead over a 975.18m loop course in a safe driving centre park in Vadena, a city about 15 kilometres to the south, due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Kipkemboi, the world 5000m silver medallist, claimed the Boclassic title for the second consecutive year but this time over 10km, holding off half marathon specialist Dorcas Jepchirchir Tuitoek by one second in 30:43 in a close sprint finish. World-class 3000m steeplechase specialist Norah Tanui completed the Kenyan sweep, finishing third in 30:46.

A five-women group formed by Gloria Kite, Norah Tanui, Kipkemboi, Tuitoek and Janet Kisa ran the first two loops in 6:44, inside the pace to break the women-only 10km world record of 30:29 set by Asmae Leghzaoui in New York in 2002. 

Kipkemboi, Tanui and Tuitoek pulled away from Kite and went through the fourth lap in 12:41. The pace then slowed, as the competition turned into a tactical race between the three Kenyans, who clocked 18:42 through six laps, 21:44 through seven, 24:47 through eight and 27:50 through nine.

Kipkemboi then pulled away in the waning stages to successfully defend her title. One year ago, she improved the traditional 5km course record to 15:30.

“I am happy with my second consecutive win in Bolzano,” Kipkemboi said. “I tried my best to break the world record but it was very cold.”

The men’s race was held over 5km to mount an assault on Frenchman Jimmy Gressier’s 13:18 European record set in Monaco in February.

Oscar Chelimo takes the 2020 Boclassic


An eight-men group which included two-time world 5000m champion Muktar Edris from Ethiopia, steeplechaser Albert Chemutai from Uganda, world U20 cross country silver medallist Tadese Worku, European 10,000m bronze medallist Yeman Crippa from Italy, Belgian Robin Hendrix and Chelimo went through two laps in 5:34 and the third lap in 8:10. The leaders then upped the pace to go through four laps in 10:50 before Chelimo broke away in the final metres to cross the finish line in 13:17.

“I ran a wonderful race,” the winner said. “It was very cold, but I was well prepared, as I am used to training at 5 in the morning when it’s cold. 

Hendrix, an unheralded 25-year-old, was second in 13:19 to finish just shy of Gressier’s European record.

“I am happy with the race as I ran faster than my PB on the track,” Hendrix said.

Moroccan Abdelati Iguider finished third in 13:20 sharing the same time as Crippa, who equalled Michele Gamba’s Italian record. The Italian star crowned a strong season, in which he broke the national 5000m record with 13:02.26 in Ostrava and the national 3000m record with 7:38.27 in Rome. Crippa, who finished eighth in the World Championships 10,000m last year with 27:10.76, became the first runner to hold the national 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m since Franco Fava in 1977.

“It was totally different from the past edition in the centre of Bolzano, but I thank organisers for putting together a great race,” Crippa said. “I tried my best until the end to break the European record. I am happy that 2020 is over and I hope 2021 will be a better year.”

Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics


Men (5km)
1 Oscar Chelimo (UGA) 13:17
2 Robin Hendrix (BEL) 13:19
3 Abdelati Iguider (MAR) 13:20
4 Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA) 13:20
5 Tadese Worku (ETH) 13:23
6 Muktar Edris (ETH) 13:24
7 Haile Telahun Bekele (ETH) 13:26
8 Yassin Bouih (ITA) 13:59

Women (10 km):
1 Margaret Kipkemboi Chelimo (KEN) 30:43
2 Dorcas Jepchirchir Tuitoek (KEN) 30:44
3 Norah Jeruto Tanui (KEN) 30:47
4 Gloria Kite (KEN) 32:27
5 Janet Kita (KEN) 33:04
6 Sofia Yaremchuk (UKR) 33:12
7 Giovanna Epis (ITA) 34:13
8 Rebecca Lonedo (ITA) 34:18

Simiu and Yalemzerf confirm supremacy in Madrid

Kenya’s Daniel Simiu and Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw signed a successful farewell to 2020, taking overwhelming victories at the 56th San Silvestre Vallecana, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, in Madrid on Wednesday (31).

While 25-year-old Simiu got the better of Italy’s late addition to the field Eyob Faniel in 27:41, 21-year-old Yehualaw beat Kenya’s world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich by a massive 24 seconds, winning in a career best of 31:17.

On a windy and cold night with the thermometer reaching barely 9C, the men’s race was headed in the early stages by Spanish marathon record-holder Ayad Lamdassem; setting a 2:48 rhythm, no more than six men managed to live with his pace: eventual winner Simiu, Faniel, Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo, USA’s Paul Chelimo, Spain’s Ouassim Oumaiz and Mike Foppen of the Netherlands.

The leading group covered the opening 2.5km lap in 6:53, then just before the halfway point (13:58) Simiu increased the pace and opened a sizeable lead with incredible ease over the rest of group. The long-legged Kenyan pushed again on the third lap with a 6:46 split and built a 15-second margin on Faniel, himself two seconds ahead of Chelimo and Foppen.

Daniel Simiu wins in Madrid


Despite the annoying win,d Simiu kept his speed over the closing lap and romped home in 27:41 while Faniel, a 2:07:19 marathon runner, improved his PB by two seconds with 28:08. The fight for the third place on the podium was thrilling as Foppen pushed Olympic silver medallist Chelimo to the line. Chelimo eventually took third in 28:13 to Foppen’s 28:14, a massive lifetime best for him.

“It was my first ever race in Spain,” said Simiu. “I’m satisfied, I would have liked to run faster but weather conditions were not the best; my goal is to make the Kenyan team for the Tokyo Olympics in the 10,000m.”

Held as a separate race, the women’s contest kicked off with a 3:14 opening kilometre, led by Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich with only Yehualaw and Sweden’s Sarah Lahti for company. While the latter began to lose ground after the third kilometre, reached in 9:37, the Ethiopian ace moved to the front with the clock reading 15:00. Yehualaw began to open up a sizeable lead, going through half way in 15:25, and Chepngetich simply could not live with the pace.

With one lap left, the diminutive Ethiopian had built a 33-second advantage on her Kenyan rival, herself well clear of Spain’s Carolina Robles and French duo Alessia Zarbo and Manon Trapp, only 19 and 20 years of age respectively.

Yehualaw maintained her advantage on the final lap and crossed the finish line in 31:17 to improve on her previous PB of 31:55, while Chepngetich had to settle for the runner-up spot for the second year in a row, timed at 31:50. In the battle for third place, Zarbo made up lots of ground in the closing stages to get the better of Robles and Trapp in a PB of 33:00.

“I’m very grateful for having been invited to compete at such an important race and happy for keeping the Ethiopian dominance,” said Yehualaw. “I’m still very young but I’ll be aiming for a spot for the Olympics in the 10,000m.”

Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics


1 Daniel Simiyu (KEN) 27:41
2 Eyob Faniel (ITA) 28:08
3 Paul Chelimo (USA) 28:13
4 Mike Foppen (NED) 28:14
5 Ouassim Oumaiz (ESP) 28:35

1 Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) 31:17
2 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 31:50
3 Alessia Zarbo (FRA) 33:00
4 Carolina Robles (ESP) 33:07
5 Manon Trapp (FRA) 33:10

Dibaba and Obiri claim victories in Barcelona

Genzebe Dibaba and Hellen Obiri brought an end to their 2020 seasons with impressive performances at the Cursa dels Nassos in Barcelona on Thursday (31), producing strong victories over 5km and 10km, respectively.

The event was billed as an assault on the world 5km record of 14:44 set by Sifan Hassan last year in Monaco and the 29:43 10km mark set by Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017. Those attacks never quite materialised, but both of the main protagonists ran aggressively, giving chase early on.

Dibaba was ahead of record pace through the first two kilometres, clocking 5:52, but a 3:06 third kilometre, to reach three kilometres in 8:58, effectively put the record out of reach. She forged on to cross the line in 15:00 to close out the year as the world leader.

In the 10km, Obiri's ambitions came to an abrupt end just two minutes into the race when she was tripped up by a runner trying to pass her on a turn. She hit the ground hard but soon found herself running alone after her pacesetter Carlos Castillejo dropped out, injured, just a few minutes later. She remained a solitary figure for the rest of the race, churning out the remaining kilometres alone en route to a 30:53 finish, the fastest of her career.

On the men's side, Jimmy Gressier of France held off Santiago Catrofe over the final metres to win the 5km by a second in 13:39. Frenchman Morhad Amdouni, the European 10,000m champion, won the 10km in 27:42 over Carlos Mayo Nieto, who clocked 28:06. Gressier pulled off a strong showing, doubling back from his 5km victory to finish third in the 10km, clocking 28:13.

Bob Ramsak for World Athletics