Even if his victory at last month’s Paris Marathon showed Kenenisa Bekele is in the process of moving to longer distance running, the Ethiopian proved he is still one of the dominant figures over 10,000m with victory at the Bupa Great Manchester Run. Bekele outkicked Wilson Kipsang to finish in 28:23, with World and Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba successfully defending her title in the women’s competition.
The 40,000 runners faced warm conditions yet strong winds, particularly on the open parts of the course, which meant world record performances were unlikely.
Bekele and Kipsang broke from the leading pack around the 7k point, leaving South African Stephen Mokoka in third place. The Ethiopian made his decisive move just after 27 minutes, gently increasing the tempo and moving through the gears for the final 200m. The first Briton home was Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick, who followed up his first place at Brighton 10k (29:11) with another strong performance, finishing in 29:21.
Bekele, unbeaten in a 10k road race for over a decade, said: "I was happy to stay with Wilson and leave it to a sprint at the end. It was a little bit windy, so the time was not fast, but it was a good race.” Bekele added: “I want to try 10,000m one more time on the track and I need to get ready for that. Maybe next year I will run against Wilson in a marathon."
Tirunesh Dibaba looked comfortable as she strode to victory in 31:09, with Britain’s Gemma Steel finishing just over a minute behind in second place. Steel, who secured victory at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run last month, narrowly edged Polline Wanjiku in an exciting finale, with both runners given times of 32:10.
Speaking after, Steel said she had agreed a specific tactical approach for the race and was determined to improve on her fourth place showing last year: “My coach told me to run with the pack today but I went with my gut instinct. I wanted to make the podium this year and didn't want to leave anything out there. It was good to get the tactics right. Hopefully my coach will be happy.”
Among the 40,000 entrants at Europe's biggest 10km running event were former footballers Phil Neville, Michael Gray and Robbie Savage, plus soap stars Julie Hesmondhalgh and Denise Welch.
Full results are available via northernrunningguide.com.