21 November 2012

Kenya: Runner Clinches Spanish Series

Emmanuel Bett clinched the 19th International de Soria cross race series in Spain. Bett clocked 30:48 with Amanuel Mesel of Eritrea finished second in 30:51 with Kenya's John Kipkoech third in 30:57

The men's 10km contest offered a nearly pedestrian pace early on as the strongest men in the field remained comfortably in the middle of the pack.

Spain's Francisco Espana, the younger brother of 2006 European 5,000m champion Jesus Espana, took advantage of the Africans' conservative tactics and pulled away some two kilometres into the race but his lead was to be short-lived.

Shortly afterwards it was the local hero - and reportedly Bett's training-mate over the week - Daniel Mateo who injected a much brisker rhythm boosted by his fans to lead the race at the halfway point.

But the 22-year-old's escape came to an end when the 2012 world 10,000m leading performer Emmanuel Bett decided to open gas with some 4000 metres to go.

Bett's change of speed was covered by his fellow Kenyan John Kipkoech, Uganda's Moses Kibet, Eritrea's Amanuel Mesel and the Spanish triumvirate of Ayad Lamdassem, Antonio Jiménez and Javier Guerra.

The local athletes were the first to lose ground before the closing lap and only Kibet dared to join Bett in the lead but the Ugandan's movement proved to be too risky and he finally finished out of the medal places in fourth.

He was overtaken by Mesel and Kipkoech to share the podium with Bett, who had unleashed a devastating kick with 300 metres remaining to go to grab the victory in 30:48, three seconds ahead of Mesel, who in turn was six seconds clear of Kipkoech. The first Spaniard home was the double European XC silver medallist Lamdassem in fifth 21 seconds adrift of Bett.

The winner, who managed his first ever win on Spanish soil after his third spot in Atapuerca last weekend, declared: "I liked the race a lot, especially because of the sunny weather as I consider that's an advantage for me.

I had tough opponents, mainly the Eritrean Mesel but I was finally the fastest." Asked about his 2013 ambitions, the 29-year-old said that "in the short-term, my main goal is next March's IAAF World Cross Country championships so these events are a perfect dress-rehearsal for me." Bett became the sixth Kenyan man in a row to win in Soria.

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