Merga, who had already defeated Olympic champion Mo Farah in Bozen/Bolzano, stood up to 2010 World half marathon champion Wilson Kiprop (Kenya) to retain his 10km title by the tiniest of margins. with just one millisecond in South Tyrol.
The drawn-out finish over 300m was probably the most exciting the BOclassic has ever seen with Moroccan Aziz Lahbabi, third in the World Junior 5000m Championship in 2010, rewarded with the third place for his fast start.
Best non-African was American Chris Barnicle (USA) who finished eighth, one second after four-times BOclassic winner - Kenyan Edwin Soi.
"The second place is a excellent result and Merga deserved his victory. Obviously I also wanted to win, but there cannot be two winners." [Wilson Kiprop]
"I am very proud to have won for the third time. This is a very special victory because Kiprop gave me a hard time," said Imane Merga after the race.
For Wilson Kiprop, it was a satisfying end to the year. "I have to be satisfied," he says. "The second place is a excellent result and Merga deserved his victory. Obviously I also wanted to win, but there cannot be two winners."
"It comforts me that Olympic winner Mo Farah was not faring better in Bozen/Bolzano. Now I am waiting for the calling for the world half marathon championship," Kiprop added.
"It was not easy because Cherono is, on the longer distances, one of the best in the world. When I pulled 300m before the finish, I knew I was going to win. It is my first time in Bozen and it was a great event; the atmosphere was unique." [Maryam Jamal]
Jamal dusts Cherono
In the women's 5km race, double world 1500m champion Maryam Jamal, Ethiopian born but running for Bahrain since 2004, edged Kenyan Gladys Cherono in the last 300m to win in 16 minutes.
Ethiopian duo of Afera Godfray and Worknesh Degefa, both of whom won the Corrida de Houilles two days ago, finished third and fourth.
"It was not easy because Cherono is, on the longer distances, one of the best in the world. When I pulled [away] 300m before the finish, I knew I was going to win. It is my first time in Bozen and it was a great event; the atmosphere was unique." said Maryam Jamal after the race.
For the first time since 1998, only Africans stood on the podium of the first three. In the women's valuation, four Africans head the run, in the men's there are seven. Never have the Africans been as dominant as in 2013. However, Kenya has been left behind without a victory since 2006.
With the victories of Jamal and Merga, the Africans drew level with Europe. Both Africa and Europa attained 38 victories in the history of the BOclassic. With the victory of Jamal, Bahrains adds as number 17 of nations winning at the BOclassic.
1) Maryam Jamal, Barhain, 16:00.6;
2) Gladys Cherono Kenya, 16:01.8;
3) Afera Godfay, Ethiopia, 16:19.2;
4) Worknesh Degefa, Ethiopia, 16:25.5;
5) Margherita Magnani, FFGG - Italy, 16:27.6;
6) Christelle Daunay, France, 16:35.9;
1) Imane Merga, Ethiopia, 28:43.8;
2) Wilson Kiprop, Kenya, 28:43.9;
3) Aziz Lahbabi, Morocco, 28:50.8;
4) Jairus Birech, Kenya, 28:59.5;
5) Leon Ndiema, Kenya, 29:04.1;
6) Solomon Mutai, Uganda, 29:49.5;
7) Edwin Soi, Kenya, 30:00.5;
8) Chris Barnicle, USA, 30:01.1.