Road runner in action (© Getty Images)
Kenya’s Robert Kaptingei and Ethiopia’s Meskerem Amare took the honours at the 26th edition of the Corrida de Langueux , the pair winning at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race over 10km in 28:15 and 32:31 respectively on Saturday (18).
As soon as the gun went off for the men’s race went off, a 10-strong group of runners separated themselves from the rest of the field. The leading group hit the halfway point in 13:50, raising the possibility that the course record of 27:46, set by Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay five years ago, would be beaten.
However, shortly after passing 5km, the pace started to slow as the race became more tactical and the leaders began looking at each other.
Eight kilometres into the race, pre-race favourite Dawit Fikadu, who ran a personal best of 27:56 for 10km on the roads when winning in Casablanca last month, suddenly ramped up the pace and the lead pack was whittled down to three men.
Only Kaptingei and Burundi’s Olivier Irabaruta were able to stay with the Ethiopian.
Fikadu soon paid for his audacious change of gear and dropped away in the ninth kilometre but, with 800 metres to go, Kaptingei surged and started to put daylight between himself and Irabaruta; and despite setting personal bests of 13:17.98 for 5000m and 27:55.92 for 10,000m on the track this year, the 25 year-old Burundian couldn’t respond.
The Kenyan continued to move away from his rival over the final few hundred metres and claimed the victory in Brittany in 28:15, 29 seconds outside the course record but a 24-second improvement on his previous best, set when he clocked 28:39 in Rennes last November.
Irabaruta took 56 seconds off his best to take the second place in 28:17 as Fikadu rounded off the podium with 28:24 in third place.
The French 10km Championships were incorporated to the Corrida de Langueux this year and James Theuri, who placed 11th overall, took the national title in 28:55.
Amare gets first big win
In the women’s race, there was also a surprise with the 19-year-old Amare adding to her credentials as an emerging talent after recently setting a 5000m best of 15:16:98.
From the gun, Amare, her compatriot Chekole and France’s 2014 European marathon champion Christelle Daunay quickly detached themselves to form a small leading group.
The trio passed the halfway point in a 15:32 to again suggest that the course record, 31:40 set last year by Kenya’s Gladys Yator, was in jeopardy.
However, in the following kilometres, like in the men’s race, the pace slowed as tactics came into play.
Chekole started to struggle coming into the last kilometre but Amare and Daunay entered the final 500 metres together.
Amare, who finished fourth at the Corrida de Houilles last December, then made a winning surge to clinch her first international win in 32:31, four seconds ahead of the 41-year-old Daunay with Chekole hanging on for third in 32:47.
“I did a hard workout at the beginning of the week before slowing down the training in order to be fresh for the race,” said the evergreen Daunay,who won this race in 2012 and was keen to takje on the African challenge in a bid to regain the title.
She will contest the 10,000m at the European Championships next month in preparation for the Olympic marathon in Rio.
Daunay also claimed the French 10km title ahead of the defending champion Jacqueline Gandar, who crossed the line in seventh place overall in 33:45.