Kenyan marathoner and Ethiopian debutante win Bupa Great North Run races in style while Chris Thompson runs third quickest half-marathon ever by a Brit
MARATHON race directors will be getting their chequebooks out and licking their lips in anticipation as Tirunesh Dibaba made a successful move on to the roads with half-marathon victory in 67:35 on Tyneside.
The 27-year-old Ethiopian, who retained her Olympic 10,000m title in London last month, adopted her familiar tactics of sitting behind the leaders for much of the race from Newcastle to South Shields on Sunday before sprinting away from Edna Kiplagat, the world marathon champion from Kenya, with Olympic marathon gold medallist Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia third.
The men’s race saw Wilson Kipsang produce a terrific last-gasp sprint to overtake fellow Kenyan Micah Kogo in the final 20 metres. Kipsang, who won the Virgin London Marathon this year before taking bronze in the Olympic marathon, clocked 59:06 – the third quickest time ever on the course – as he edged past former world 10km road record-holder Kogo.
Kipsang said: “The finish was quite fantastic. Towards the last part of a race I usually really believe in myself.”
He added: “I really like running in the UK with the London Marathon, Olympic bronze and now the Great North Run.”
Will he be in London in April? “God willing,” he smiled.
Chris Thompson is another runner who will be high on the list of potential signings for the London Marathon – if not next year then perhaps in 2014. He ran 61:00 in sixth place to smash his 61:23 PB and is now the third-quickest Briton of all time over 13.1 miles.
Mo Farah is the fastest with 60:23 from New York last year and UK marathon record-holder Steve Jones ran 60:59 in the Great North Run in 1986. Thompson, whose Olympic campaign was ruined by a hamstring injury on the eve of the Games, was only a second slower than Jones’ mark and three seconds quicker than the official UK half-marathon record of 61:03, which was set by Nick Rose in Philadelphia in 1985. (The Great North Run course is, for record purposes, considered downhill).
“I’m over the moon,” said Thompson, who knocked back marathon speculation by insisting he has unfinished business on the track.
“I ran two 10kms on the trot here faster than I did in one single 10,000m at the Olympics last month. It’s just timing with my injuries. But I’ll have a break now and come back strong next year for the World Champs in Moscow.
“I don’t have to beat Mo to win a medal. I just have to hang on to his coat-tails and if I can do that I’ll be in with a shout of winning a medal.”
London Marathon organisers will also surely be trying to entice Dibaba to make her marathon debut in the British capital in April. “It was a good race,” said Dibaba, who confirmed she is planning to run a marathon next year. “The course was good for me and I enjoyed it, even despite the rain at the last moment.”
Along with Thompson, Jo Pavey also had a great run in the women’s race, finishing fifth in 69:20 – although it was short of her 68:53 PB.
Pavey, who will now do the Yokohama Women’s Marathon on November 18, said: “I was fairly pleased but would have liked to have been up with the lead runners for a little longer. But it was such a tough field with two Olympic champions and a world champion.”
Josh Cassidy of Canada won the men’s wheelchair race by a clear margin.
Men: 1 Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 59:06; 2 Micah Kogo (KEN) 59:07; 3 Imane Merga (ETH) 59:56; 4 Mike Kigen (KEN) 60:18; 5 Emmanuel Bett (KEN) 60:56; 6 Chris Thompson 61:00; 7 Collis Birmingham (AUS) 61:25; Ryan Vail (USA) 62:04
Women: 1 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 67:35; 2 Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 67:41; 3 Tiki Gelana (ETH) 67:48; 4 Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) 68:09; 5 Jo Pavey (GBR) 69:20; 6 Rene Kalmer (RSA) 70:13; 7 Gemma Steel (GBR) 70:46; 8 Caryl Jones (GBR) 71:18
» For more in-depth coverage of the Bupa Great North Run and Great City Games, see Thursday’s Athletics Weekly magazine.