Sam Chelanga justified his billing as the fastest 10,000m man in the race by taking out the 2013 Zatopek 10 at Lakeside Stadium on Thursday night.
You could say it was his destiny.
30 years ago in 1983 was the 1st Kenyan victory in the Zatopek 10 where Gabriel Kamau a former collegiate runner who was then the 10,000m NCAA record holder at 27:36 ran away from one of Australia’s top distance runners to win in a time under 28 mins (27:59)
30 years later in 2013, Sam Chelanga, a Kenyan born American, a former collegiate runner, who is now the 10,000 NCAA record holder at 27:08 ran away from one of Australia’s top distance runner to win in a time under 28 mins (27:46)
No I don’t see any coincidences either.
But it was Harry Summers who led for the first 4km and lead he did by a significant gap as he seemed to want to run his own race and not be at the mercy of someone else’s pace or surges.
A chasing pack that included Chelanga, Collis Birmingham and Ben St. Lawrence reeled him in by 4km as they set about establishing a gap over the rest of the field.
With 11 laps to go Chelanga bought some pain to the situation by driving a surge that got rid of St. Lawrence.
With 10 laps to go he was at it again, this time unhinging Summers.
By now I’m thinking he’s going to try it again at 9 laps for Birmingham and sure enough there was a surge at 9 to go. But the script had been turned on its head and it was Birmingham doing the surging to Chelanga.
Birmingham tried to surge again with 6 laps to go but Chelanga managed to hold on and get himself comfortable again behind the runner from Ballarat, Victoria.
But with 1400m to go Birmingham suddenly started to look like all was not well. It was subtle, a slight shortening of the stride, a flicker of a grimace across the face, but it was noticeable to me sitting in the stands. Which meant that it was definitely noticeable to Chelanga who was about 2cm away from him.
And he made his move with 800m to go, blasting away and opening a sizable gap over the next 200m. He covered the last 800 in about 2:02 to win in 27:46.
Birmingham was first Aussie home in 27:56 and Summers held on to 3rd in 28:16.
Some Post Race Thoughts (PRT’s):
PRT 1: It should come as no surprise that the man with the fastest PB for the distance by 16 seconds over the next best man wins the race. Especially when he has recent form on his side too with a 61:04 in the Boston Half-Marathon in October.
PRT 2: Big improvements for Victorian athletes Duer Yoa (following on from his Vic 5k win) and Chris Hamer. Yoa shaved 44 seconds off his PB while Hamer took off an incredible 81 seconds! I think we have a winner for best run of the night.