KOGO DEFEATS KUMA IN THRILLING SPRINT FOR THE LINE IN BIRMINGHAM
Kenyan Micah Kogo won a thrilling sprint for the line ahead of Abera Kuma to set a new course record at the Bupa Great Birmingham Run on Sunday.
Kogo who dominated the race almost from the start, breasted the tape in a time of one hour and 17 secconds to deny his Ethiopian rival victory by two seconds with World record holder and pre-race favourite Zersenay Tadese third in 1:01:06.
On a very misty morning, Kogo - after losing in last month's Bupa Great North Run by a second - made amends by smashing the course record of 1:01:29 set a year ago by the legendary Ethiopian, Haile Gebrselassie.
Despite that defeat the 26-year-old former Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist's confidence was sky high after a posting a World class time of 59:07 in the Tyneside race and it clearly showed as he took up the pace after the first mile passed in a speedy 4:30.
With Kogo and Kuma operating at sub one hour pace there was drama 15 minutes into the contest when Tadese - who set the current UK All-Comers' record of 59:35 when winning the World Half Marathon title in Birmingham three years ago - fell away.
The Eritrean was clearly suffering from tiredness after again winning the global title in Bulgaria a fortnight ago but showed his determination when getting back alongside the two leaders before again dropping well behind them a mile later.
That left Kuma fifth in last year's World Championships 5,000 metres final and making his half marathon debut doggedly stuck to the heels of his fellow east African to set up a grandstand finish before Kogo proved the faster sprinter finish in the final 150m.
"I'm really happy with the result today," said Kogo. "It was a fabulous run for me. At the Bupa Great North Run, I was just pipped to the finish, so to win today in Birmingham is fantastic."
Kogo who along with Kuma looked set to smash the one hour barrier until a very steep incline at 11 miles wrecked the attempt, added: "This course was slightly trickier than the North Run.
"There is a hill at the end, plus the weather was colder than Newcastle but that makes it a better achievement for me.
"The crowd was amazing, everyone was cheering 'Kogo, go, go' which really pushed me on to get to the finish line."
Kogo who still holds the UK All-Comers' record for 10 kilometres set at the 2007 Bupa Great Manchester Run and is planning a marathon debut next year, added: "The plan for me now is to head back to Kenya for more training."
Tadese who was clearly carrying dead legs after another high profile race so soon after his Kavarna victory and London Olympic Games participation, admitted he was very tired.
"I'm now looking forward to a three weeks rest break before getting back in to training," said the 30-year-old and arguably the World's greatest ever half marathon performer.
The women's race was a less high profile affair with Sara Moreira taking total control in the last three miles to notch a runaway victory ahead of Ethiopia's former World Half Marathon champion Berhane Adere.
Moreira breaking clear on the killer mile which had slowed Kogo and Kuma in their attempts to smash the milestone one hour barrier, finished in a time of 1:12:49.
The Portugese athlete after a very slow start to the competition missed Gemma Steel's course record by 28sec as she finished well ahead of Adere who clocked 1:15:02 with Kenya's Irene Mogaka third in 1:15:40.
"It's really good to win," said Moreira a London Olympic Games 10,000m finalist. "I'm very happy with how the race went although I had a slow first 10km but I picked it up in the second half.
"I'm currently training for the European cross country in Budapest and the tough course in Birmingham is good preparation."
1, M Kogo (Kenya) 1:00:17
2, A Kuma (Ethiopia) 1:00:19
3, Z Tadese (Eritrea) 1:01:06
4, Y Nakao (Japan) 1:03:16
5, A Meftah (France) 1:03:55
6, J Kelai |(Kenya) 1:04:04
1, S Moreira (Portugal) 1:12:49
2, B Adere (Ethiopia) 1:15:02
3, I Mogaka (Kenya) 1:15:40
4, C Holme (Great Britain) 1:17:06
5, S Harrison (Great Britain) 1:18:19
6, J Evans (Great Britain) 1:19:28
1, P Hogg (Great Britain) 53:30
2, S Lawson (Great Britain) 1:00:58
3, M Clarke (Great Britain) 1:02:50
1, M Dawson-Farrell (Great Britain) 1:21:29