European silver medallist Jo Pavey wins the women’s race while South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka comes out on top in the men’s race
This morning in the chilly and overcast conditions of Portsmouth, Jo Pavey regained the title she won six years ago at the Bupa Great South Run while South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka’s unusual tactics ultimately paid off to land him with victory in the men’s race.
It was only the second 10-mile race of Pavey’s career, but it came following a superb track season in which she won European 10,000m silver and finished seventh in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics.
On paper it seemed as though her task would be a tough one as she faced the likes of World Half seventh-placer Gemma Steel and fellow Olympians Julia Bleasdale and Claire Hallissey, but ultimately it turned out to be a solo effort by the 39-year-old.
After just two miles (10:40), Pavey had opened up a 25-metre lead over her rivals, which grew to 100 metres by the time of the next mile marker.
At half way, reached in 26:15, Bleasdale and Hallissey had been dropped from the chase pack while Pavey’s lead continued to grow and she had a margin of more than a minute at six miles.
With two miles to go, Steel – who had been languishing at the back of the trail pack – moved to the front of the chasers, but that did not last long. In the final mile, Jess Coulson made a sudden surge and was followed by former world champion Berhane Adere.
By this point, Pavey had the victory in the bag and she crossed the line in 53:01, just 15 seconds shy of the time she ran six years ago. Coulson finished a comfortable second in 53:43 with Adere holding on for third place (53:55).
“I wanted to go off at a decent pace and see how my legs feel and keep plugging away,” said Pavey. “I like a flat course and I’m not great at hills, so I knew this course would suit me. You always think ‘I’m going to speed up the last two miles’ and even though you put in more effort, they’re always tough and you still seem to slow down!
“I need to get more marathon experience, but I so loved focusing on the track this year,” said Pavey, who was using this race as preparation for the Yokohama Marathon on November 18. “I’d like to keep going until the next Olympics. Although I’m getting older, it gives me motivation that I still set a PB this year.”
The men’s race was a much closer and more tactical affair. In the first few miles a lead group soon formed, comprising Mokoka, two-time world champion Abel Kirui, Olympic bronze medallist Tariku Bekele, European silver medallist Daniele Meucci, two-time European cross silver medallist Ayam Lamdassem and Britain’s Andrew Lemoncello.
Mokoka made several surges, although none of them were decisive and each time he encouraged his opponents to rejoin him. At seven miles, Kirui began to drop back and while his hopes of winning began to fade, he found himself locked in a battle with Lemoncello.
Meanwhile, Mokoka, Bekele, Lamdassem and Meucci were scrapping it out for the lead. Lamdassem was the first to kick for the finish line, but it proved to be too early as he was caught by Mokoka turning into the final straight.
Mokoka, who finished second to Mo Farah in this race three years ago, strode away to take the win in 46:40. Lamdassem crossed the line four seconds later, just holding off Bekele. Meanwhile Lemoncello defeated Kirui to finish top Brit in a big PB of 47:08, moving him to 15th on the UK all-time list for the distance.
1 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 46:40
2 Ayam Lamdassem (ESP) 46:44
3 Tariku Bekele (ETH) 46:45
4 Daniele Meucci (ITA) 46:50
5 Andrew Lemoncello (GBR) 47:08
6 Abel Kirui (KEN) 47:12
7 Jonny Mellor (GBR) 47:35
8 Reid Coolsaet (CAN) 47:50
1 Jo Pavey (GBR) 53:01
2 Jess Coulson (GBR) 53:43
3 Berhane Adere (ETH) 53:55
4 Nadia Ejjafini (ITA) 53:55
5 Gemma Steel (GBR) 53:57
6 Alessandra Aguilar (ESP) 53:57
7 Annie Bersagel (USA) 54:00
8 Emma Pallant (GBR) 55:26
» See next week’s Athletics Weekly, out on Nov 1, for full coverage of the Bupa Great South Run, including results of the top 3000 finishers.