Kenyans rule Bengaluru road race

2017 world cross country champion Irene Cheptai after winning the second position in Women 10000m in the national trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games at The Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Irene Cheptai and Nicholas Kimeli powered to stunning victories at the World 10km Bengaluru yesterday, shattering course records set by their compatriots in 2014 and 2018.

Cheptai, a Prague Half marathon runner-up, led 5,000m world champion Hellen Obiri and Joyce Tele to a podium sweep in women’s race.

They clocked 30:35, 30:44, 31:47 respectively, with compatriot Faith Cherono placing fourth 31:59 in the Indian race.

Cheptai chipped off 44 seconds off the course record set by the late Agnes Tirop in 2018.

The race started off at a blisteringly faster pace, becoming a Kenyan affair after the leading pack whittled down to Cheptai, Obiri and Tele in the third kilometre.

The leading pack changed leads, with Obiri, who was the race favourite making several moves after 5km before Cheptai pushed to the front, causing a head-to-head battle.

Cheptai darted past Obiri in the final 250 metres stretch to finish in a course record and personal best in 10km.

“After 6km, I felt as if Obiri’s pace was reducing, and that is when I pushed harder. Even in the final stretch at the stadium, I still felt Obiri would overpower me because she has strong finishing,” Cheptai said after the win.

Other Kenyan women Faith Chepkoech (32:05), Esther Borura (32:29) and Pauline Esikon (32:38) finished in the top ten.

Nicholas Kimeli, who was fourth in 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics, overpowered world Under 20 10,000m champion Tadese Worku of Ethiopia to take six seconds off men’s 27:44 record set by Geoffrey Kamworor in 2014.