By JOSEPH NGURE and IAAF
Running against a strong head wind in the first third of the race, 25-year old Kitwara, the defending champion, crossed the finish line in 28:02, the slowest winning time since 2008, but enough to make history as he became the first man to win three titles on the fast Puerto Rican course.
Coming back from an absence in 2011, double World champion and 2011 Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Vivian Cheruiyot ran 30:47, a personal best and the fourth fastest winning time ever and the fastest at the 15th Worldâs Best 10K since 2004, to regain the crown she won in 2009 and 2010.
With three titles in her bag, the 28-year-old now trails Kenyan-born Dutch six-time winner Lorna Kiplagat as the second most decorated woman in the 15-year history of the race.
As soon as former Major League Baseball star Jorge Posada flagged off the race at 5:25pm local time, a group of 15 runners took and traded the lead but raced at a more conservative pace due to a strong head wind.
The leading group passed the first kilometre at 2:54, the second (5:45) and third at 8:41, 26 seconds off the course record pace. After the turn-around, Kenyan Junior and race debutant Paul Lonyangata, took the lead and sped up to 11:22 at the fourth kilometre and 14:02 at the halfway mark despite the verocity of the headwind.
Five runners trailed Lonyangata with no clear favourite.
At a slight descent around the sixth kilometre, Kitwara stretched his winning legs and progressively separated himself from the chasing pack.
By the eighth kilometre, which he had covered in 22:24, he had built an eight-second lead over countryman and former World record holder Micah Kogo.
With two wins and a second place in 2010, Kitwara kept a solid pace and was not challenged to cruise to an easy victory in 28:02.
"My goal today was to win, without focusing on a specific time. I noticed the group began to slow down and I knew it was the right time to break away. I sped up until I managed to lead alone," said Kitwara.