Alex Korio and Irene Cheptai made it a Kenyan double at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2017 race, winning at the 10th edition of this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in 28:12 and 31:51 respectively, on Sunday (20).
Cheptai caught the eye in particular with an impressive performance that will confirm her rising status in the world of distance running and reinforce the belief that she can be among the medallists over the same distance on the track at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this coming August.
She continued her unbeaten year, which includes a win at the World Cross Country Championships in March, with the second fastest time ever seen in the Bengaluru women’s race.
A conservative first half saw nine women pass three kilometres in 9:51 and five runners – Cheptai and her Kenyan compatriots Gladys Chesir, Helah Kiprop and Magdalyne Masai as well as Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa – were still together as the halfway point was reached in 16:19, at this stage well outside course-record pace.
However, Cheptai was looking comfortable and always to the fore during the first five kilometres and soon took matters into her own hands.
She gradually went through the gears in the seventh and eighth kilometres as her rivals one-by-one slipped away as they struggled to stay with the race favourite.
Despite being on her own at the front, her tempo didn’t drop over the final two kilometres and she crossed the line in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium just three seconds outside the course record of 31:48, set by another Kenyan runner Lucy Kabuu in 2014, after running the second half of the course in 15:32.
“I wasn’t confident at the start,” said Cheptai, partially explaining why she had not pushed the pace harder during the opening kilometres. “But from eight kilometres I grew in confidence and knew that I was going to win, and I was trying for the course record from seven kilometres.”
Degefa, the last of Cheptai’s opponents to succumb, hung on to take second place in 32:00 while the 2012 women’s winner Kiprop closed the gap on Degefa in the closing stages of the race but was third on this occasion in 32:02.