Ethiopia's Andamlak Belihu Sunday won the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2019 title by crossing the tape in IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 27:56, just eight seconds outside his personal best and 12 seconds off the course record.
"I expected to run a fast time as there were so many good runners in this race, but I also expected to run even faster than this," Belihu told reporters after the race.
The 20-year-old triumphed in difficult conditions as there was high humidity and temperatures touched 26 degrees celsius.
Right from the gun, Belihu was prominent at the front of the leading pack, often forcing the pace.
Eight men went through the 5km mark in 14:11 before Uganda's Mande Bushendich made an audacious early move just after the halfway point.
Bushendich, who finished second in 28:03, went through the gears so rapidly that the leading group was quickly fractured and by the 7km mark only Belihu was left to challenge him.
It initially looked as though Belihu was also going to be dropped as he briefly struggled to stay with his rival, but he took the lead again with just under two kilometres to go before he pulled away.
Bushendich, who already has one major 10km win to his name in 2019 having won the famous Pareloop race in the Netherlands, said," I was surprised no one else came with me when I made my move just after halfway."
Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese, the Tokyo Marathon winner earlier in the year and Tata Steel Kolkata 25K winner in December, finished third in 28:23.
Agnes Tirop's finishing time may have been more than two minutes slower than her course record but the 2017 IAAF World Championships 10,000m bronze medallist defended her title, becoming the first woman to win back-to-back titles in the 12-year history of the Bengaluru race.
It was clear from the leisurely opening kilometres that this was going to be a much slower race than in 2018. A group of nine women went through the first half of the race in a modest 18:06, more than two minutes down on last year's split.
Tirop herself injected regular short bursts of pace during the next three kilometres but none were sustained, and they did nothing to break up the group apart from dropping Bahrain's 2017 world marathon champion Rose Chelimo.
Coming into the Bengaluru's famous Cubbon Park, eight women were still closely grouped together and that was still the situation as they entered the stadium for one final lap of the track.
Ethiopia's Letsenbet Gidey darted into the lead on entering the stadium but, with 50 metres to go, Tirop still had plenty in reserve and emerged victorious in a thrilling five-woman sprint for the line.
Tirop won in 33:55 in sharp contrast to the fast men's race it was the slowest winning time in the history of the event with just two seconds covering the top five, with the Kenyan being followed home by four Ethiopian women.
"I would have liked to have run faster and I did my best but no one else wanted to push hard so I was just content with the win," said Tirop.
Senbere Teferi was second and Gidey third, both women also given 33:55; 2018 world half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta was fourth in 33:56 with Dera Dida one second further back in fifth place.
The TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2019 has a total prize fund of US$213,000, with the men's and women's winners each taking home USD 26,000.
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