Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli and Irene Cheptai broke the course record in the 14th edition of the World 10K Bengaluru 2022, clocking 27:38 and 30:35 minutes, respectively.
The World 10K Bengaluru 2022 is an Elite Label World Athletics race that took place on Sunday. Kipkorir Kimeli, who finished fourth in the 5000m at the Olympic Games last summer, took the lead with a kilometre to go and raced ahead of Ethiopia’s reigning world U20 10,000m champion Tadese Worku to cut the men’s course record by six seconds from the previous mark set by Geoffrey Kamworor in 2014.
The race began in an unusual fashion, with Kenya’s Reynold Kipkorir, who finished ninth, lagging for much of the first 5 kilometres, passing the halfway point in 14:00 minutes while the rest of the elite field remained around 70 metres behind.
However, shortly after the 5 km mark, Worku changed gear and began to rapidly tow the leading men back to Kipkorir before passing him just before the 6 km mark and then picking up the pace even more.
Kipkorir Kimeli stayed close behind Worku for the next three kilometres, letting his Ethiopian rival do all the hard work as the pair gradually regained course record pace while also putting daylight between themselves and the rest of the field.
Worku appeared to be in good shape as they approached the final kilometre, but they were unable to respond when Kipkorir Kimeli took the lead, with the latter sprinting like a middle-distance runner over the final 300 metres as the finish line approached in Bengaluru’s Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Kipkorir Kimeli finished in 27:38 minutes, with Worku coming in at 27:43 minutes, and Kibiwott Kandie, the Kenyan pre-race favourite and former world half marathon record holder, coming in third in 27:57 minutes.
Muktar Edris, Ethiopia’s two-time reigning world champion in the 5000m, finished seventh and was never in contention for the podium.
“Honestly, I was not expecting to get the course record. When we reached 5K, we didn’t think we will get the course record, in fact, even when we crossed the 7K-mark, I didn’t think we will make the record. But only when Worku pushed ahead, I picked up pace towards the end,” reflected Kipkorir Kimeli.
The women’s race unfolded very differently than the men’s, with Irene Cheptai taking an even bigger chunk out of the women’s course record, which had been held by the late Agnes Tirop at 31:19 minutes since 2018.
A quick time was always likely after a super-fast opening two kilometres of 3:02 and 3:04 minutes, and the race was soon down to just three women at the front — Cheptai, Obiri, and fellow Kenyan Joyce Tele.
Tele began to lose contact with her teammates in the fifth kilometre, before Obriri, who was pushing the pace with Cheptai in her slipstream, passed the halfway point in 15:15 minutes.
Obiri led the race for the next two kilometres, clocking 6 km in 18:23 and 7 km in 21:32 before Cheptai took her turn to push at the front for a kilometre as Obiri hit a rough patch.
However, Obiri quickly regained her composure and reclaimed the lead just before the penultimate kilometre.
The Kenyan pair continued their thrilling head-to-head battle, but with only 250 metres remaining, Cheptai darted past Obiri, crossing the line in a personal best of 30:35 minutes, her first time under 31 minutes.
Obiri eased off once she realised the race was over, but she still finished in 30:44 minutes, breaking Tirop’s previous course record, and Tele was a distant third in 31:47 minutes to complete an all-Kenyan podium.
“When we raced through an inclined patch on the route [just after 7km], I felt like Hellen’s pace reduced, that’s when I tried harder to take lead. But even when I entered the stadium for the final lap, I was fearing Hellen and kept pushing my speed to win,” commented Cheptai.
Kipkorir Kimeli and Cheptai both took home first place cheques of USD $26,000 for their victories and course record bonuses of USD $8000.
(Inputs from ANI)