Bekele and Burka triumph at San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid
Madrid, Spain Ã¢â‚¬â€œ EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2012 Olympic Games 10,000m bronze medallist Tariku Bekele and his compatriot Gelete Burka proved to the strongest at the 48th San Silvestre Vallecana 10km race Ã¢â‚¬â€œ anÃ‚Â IAAF Silver label Road RaceÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ on Monday (31).
Battling the bitter cold as well as his rivals, Bekele became just the third man in history to win arguably the two most renowned New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Eve races, in Sao Paulo and Madrid, his predecessors being PortugalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s three-time World Cross Country Championships winner Carlos Lopes and MexicoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s former World 10,000m record holder Arturo Barrios.
Burka had suprisingly little opposition from KenyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Linet Masai and crossed the finish line more than a minute before her main opponent, clocking a course record of 30:59.
Bekele dominates from the gun
Bekele, who turns 26 on 21 January, set the pace from the early stages of the race. Only four athletes remained at BekeleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shoulder after 2km, when the clock read 5:40. They were a quartet of Spaniards, the two-time SPAR European Cross Country Championships silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem, the 2012 Spanish 10,000m champion Manuel Penas, JosÃƒÂ© Carlos HernÃƒÂ¡ndez and Roberto Alaiz.
Soon, only Lamdassem could live with BekeleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pace and the pair went through the halfway point in 14:01, with 13 seconds between themselves and a nine-strong chasing pack.
Lamdassem, 31, managed to stay with Bekele until 8km, which was reached in 22:02 with a four-man group comprising of Penas, Alaiz, HernÃƒÂ¡ndez and Enrique SÃƒÂ¡nchez languishing 29 seconds in arrears.
The much-feared and infamous hill 2km from the finish proved to be a decisive point for Bekele, who broke away from his Spanish rival to secure the win in 28:29, coming home 16 seconds in front of Lamsassem, who was second in 2010 and third last year.
The battle for third place was won by Alaiz, a 8:24:53 3000m steeplechaser, who managed to get rid of his rivals before crossing the line in 29:08.
Burka a big winner
As for the women – it was a mixed menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race – the much anticipated clash between Burka and KenyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2009 World 10,000m champion Linet Masai never materialised.
The Ethiopian dictated the pace from the gun and crossed the 2km point in a brisk 6:02 while Masai was five seconds slower.
Burka strengthened her lead in the next 3km as she clocked 15:01 at halfway to MasaiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 15:11. SpainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Diana MartÃƒÂn, a creditable eighth at the European Cross Country Championships in Budapest on 9 December, was a distant third in 15:54 while her compatriot Marta DomÃƒÂnguez was fourth in 16:27.
Burka clearly enjoyed the festive atmosphere during the second half of the race and built up a handsome 34-second margin over Masai with 2.5km remaining, with MartÃƒÂn a further 39 seconds adrift.
The Ethiopian crossed the line Ã‚Â 24thÃ‚Â overall in 30:59, which took no less than 23 seconds off Paula Radcliffe’s former standard which had stood since 2005, while Masai faded in the closing stages to clock 32:13 for second place in the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race (and 38thÃ‚Â overall) with MartÃƒÂn third in 32:32.
Leading Results (10km):
1. Tariku Bekele (ETH) 28:29
2. Ayad Lamdassem (ESP) 28:45
3. Roberto Alaiz (ESP) 29:08
1. Gelete Burka (ETH) 30:59
2. Linet Masai (KEN) 32:13
3. Diana MartÃƒÂn (ESP) 32:32