Cheruiyot beats Masai to end Ethiopia's dominance

Submitted by ATAF Editor on 6 September 2009 - 8:27pm

World 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot beat her Kenyan teammate Linet Masai in a sprint finish to win the adidas Women's 5k Challenge in London's Hyde Park today.

Running just two days after finishing second over 2000m at the Brussels Golden League meeting, Cheruiyot ended four years of Ethiopian dominance at this event when she burst ahead of Masai and Ethiopia's Aberu Kebede in the last 200m to clock 15 minutes 11 seconds.

"I was a bit tired because I have just come from Brussels," said Cheruiyot, who is the first Kenyan to win this annual London road race since Tegla Loroupe in 2000.

"I didn't struggle with the pace. We made sure it wasn't too fast early on and that was good for me."

Masai, world 10,000m champion, was just a second behind while the 19-year-old Kebede crossed the line in 15:13 at the end of a tight race.

"I was not strong enough at the finish but I am pleased with my run anyway," said Masai, who outkicked three Ethiopians to win the 10,000m title in Berlin, but lost to her training partner Cheruiyot over 3000m at the British Grand Prix in Gatehsead last Monday.

"When I was running I was hoping to win," said the 19-year-old. "We go together for most of the race but at the end she always beats me. I think I will have to work on my sprints."

The two Kenyans were pre-race favourites with some even predicting they would break Paula' Radcliffe's course record of 14:51. But a conservative first kiliometre of 3:09 put paid to those hopes soon after they'd been set on their way by Jessica Ennis, Britain's world heptathlon champion.

New Zealand's Kim Smith led a group of seven through the second kilometre in 6:17 before Masai took over the pace-making duties on the uphill Broad Walk stretch of this tree-lined central London park alongside Park Lane.

Masai pulled Cheruiyot, Kebede and the third Kenyan Grace Momanyi clear of the rest as those four passed 3km in 9:18, with Smith and Russia's European 10,000m champion Inga Abitova some 20m back.

Cheruiyot started to show on the downhill section along North Carriage Drive as Momanyi lost touch. The leading three sped past 4k in 12:19 before Cheruiyoit made her move as they turned the final sharp corner to the finish line alongside the Serpentine lake.

"I was pleased with my sprint finish," said the smiling Cheruiyot afterwards. "I just wanted to be sure I could win."

Abitova was fourth in 15:23 with Smith fifth in 15:27 and Momanyi sixth after struggling in the closing stages.

Justina Heslop was the first Briton home in eighth place. Heslop, who runs for Clapham Chasers, clocked 16:06, and was pleased to get among the elite after training in Ethiopia this spring.

"I trained with some amazing athletes and they made me feel I could really do this," said Heslop who ran with the leading group for the first two kilometres.

"I was aiming to be first Briton so I went with the leaders early on to make sure I got that. I am really pleased with my run. I really enjoyed it."

Behind her more than 17,000 other women also enjoyed their morning runs on a warm, still Sunday in the capital, many aiming for personal bests, and many more running for hundreds of charitable causes.

Among them was Marylin Okoro, Britain's world 800m finallist, who decided to enter at the last minute and came home 37th glowing with the buzz of this event's special atmosphere.

"I was warming up with all the other women and I thought it was such a good buzz I just had do it," she said. "Running is my thing, it's what I do for a living so I thought it would be great to join all these other women running for their special causes.

"At first I thought I would have an easy run but I ended up getting really competitive," added Okoro, who finished in a creditable 19:41.

"I really enjoyed running with all these women. The atmosphere was fantastic."

Results for top 10

1 Vivian Cheruiyot     Kenya             15:11
2 Linet Masai            Kenya             15:12
3 Aberu Kebede         Ethiopia          15:13
4 Inga Abitova          Russia            15:23
5 Kim Smith             New Zealand    15:27
6 Grace Momanyi      Kenya             15:35
7 Dulce Felix             Portugal          15:57
8 Justina Heslop       Great Britain     16:06
9 Lara Tamsett         Australia          16:19
10 Hannah Whitmore  Great Britain   16:34