In what was a frustrating event for Kenyan athletes, Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben won the men’s IAAF Gold Label road race in 59:11 on Sunday October 22, grabbing his third win in four years in Valencia.
The race kicked off at a steady 2:48-per-kilometre pace, powered by a group of three pacemakers and headed by Mathew Kisorio who went through the first five-kilometre check point in 14:00, just on schedule to break the 58:48 course record set by Cheroben in 2014.
Cheroben then surprisingly passed the pacemakers and took command of the race from the sixth kilometre. There were still 10 men in the leading group at the stage, but with 26 minutes on the clock, Cheroben put in another surge and was followed by the Ethiopian pair of Leul Gebrselassie Aleme and late addition Tsadik Fidaku Haftu, neither of whom had previously bettered 60 minutes for this distance.
The lead trio went through the 10-kilometre point in 27:54 with Cheroben still dictating the pace and the Ethiopians running in single file behind him. At the half-way stage, the biggest surprise was the fourth-placed runner, Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen. Despite moderate success at the continental level, Moen was relatively unheralded in global terms and headed into the race with a lifetime best of 1:02:19.
There were no major changes in the following kilometres as Aleme and Haftu never headed the race, leaving Cheroben with the burden of setting the pace throughout. As a result, the 15-kilometre split of 42:08 showed the speed had decreased a bit and the course record of 58:48 became an unreachable aim.
After cruising through 20 kilometres in 56:18, the decisive moment came with some 600 metres left when Cherono opened a sizeable gap on the Ethiopians to prove he was the strongest athlete today. He crossed the line in 59:11 while Aleme took the runner-up place in 59:17 to take more than a minute from his previous best. Haftu completed a classy podium in 59:21, also a massive improvement for him.
Moen obliterated his PB by more than two minutes, crossing the line in fourth place in a Norwegian record of 59:47, the second-fastest time in history by a European athlete on a record-eligible course. Multiple world and Olympic champion Mo Farah is the only European runner to have covered 13.1 miles in a faster time.
1 Abraham Cheroben (BRN) 59:11
2 Leul Gebresilase (ETH) 59:12
3 Fikadu Haftu (ETH) 59:22
4 Sondre Nordstad Moen (NOR) 59:47
5 Mustapha El Aziz (MAR) 1:00:51
6 Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 1:00:53
7 Justus Kangogo (KEN) 1:00:53
8 Mathew Kisorio (KEN) 1:01:17