EDWIN Kipkorir became the first man in 19 years to successfully defend the Admiral Swansea Bay 10K, with the Kenyan leading home a record 4,000 runners in the South Wales sunshine which followed a night of heavy rain.
Kipkorir followed in the footsteps of Benson Masya (1991-92) and Steve Kenyon (1985-86), by backing up his 2010 triumph to win in 29 minutes and 29 seconds in blustery conditions.
The time was just under a minute slower than what he clocked last year and was well adrift of Felix Limo’s incredible 2002 course record of 27:39, but nevertheless, the 22-year-old African was happy to add Swansea to his numerous race victories across the UK this year.
“The conditions weren’t easy, it was quite windy, but I enjoyed the race. It was good to win again,” he said.
The Admiral Swansea bay 10k was the fourth event in the 5 race Run Britain Grand Prix Series.
Points on the score-board were both valuable and critical with athletes approaching the final race at the BUPA Great Birmingham Run on 23 October which resulted in the top 3 male and female runners in the standings running to try and protect or improve their positions at the head of the series.
Since the last European winner, way back in 1990, when Chris Robison of England took the title Kenya has led the way with only wins for Morocco’s Olympic great, Khalid Skah, in 2001, South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala, in 1999 and Jean Ndyasenga from Burundi in 2009 breaking a Kenyan stranglehold on this event and yet again Kenya was victorious extending their overall number of race wins at this event to17.
The first 2 kilometres were reached in (2.56) and ( 5.44) which saw a pack of 4 at the front of Kipkorir, Phil Wicks, Dean Lacy and Dewi Griffiths closely followed by a splinter pack a few metres behind.
It was clear, however, from the 3k mark that there was only likely to be one winner with Kipkorir pulling away and maintaining this lead to the end from Belgrave’s Phil Wicks
After 4k (11.39) the dye had been clearly set for much of the rest of the race with Kipkorir maintaining a 40 metre gap on Wicks who himself kept a 50m lead over Griffiths in third with the chasing pack a further 100metres behind
By the turn, reached in 14.36 at Oystermouth it was clear Felix Limo’s course record of 27.39 which was set way back in 2002 was never going to be under any threat.
At this stage Kipkorir maintained his lead on Wicks with Griffiths starting to drop back slightly a further 60metres behind but still maintaining his overall position.
Returning along the seafront however Kipkorir extended his lead to 60metres by 6K (17.36) and maintained this lead through 7k (20.36) 8K(23.30) and 9K(26.31) with Kipkorir eventually wining easily well clear of Phil Wicks in second (29:43) and Ben Tickner in 3rd(30.14).
In fairness to Wicks he never let the Kenyan out of his sights, but never came close to hauling him in either with a constant gap ranging from 40 to 60 metres at various times
His second place finish at least keeps Wicks at the top of the inaugural Run Great Britain Grand Prix series and the bonus prize of £200 for First Briton home was obviously an added bonus but Tickner’s late run for 3rd were vital extra points earned.
As for Griffiths, the recently crowned Welsh 10k champion from Carmarthen, now running for Swansea Harriers on his home turf, he held third for the majority of the race before tiring only in the last kilometre and being overhauled by Ben Ticker of Wells Harriers late on.
“It was a tough slog because I was on my own from the 3k mark, but I enjoyed the race. It’s a great event and I was pleased with my run,” he said but there was some consolation as he won the Junior under 20 male Man category
Swansea Harriers were also able to boast a second runner in the top five with Simon Jones coming in just three seconds behind and losing club and Welsh bragging rights to Griffiths.
In the women’s race Justina Heslop who was currently top of the grand prix score-board coming into this event was in very confident form following her recent 15:59 in winning the Adidas Women’s Challenge 5K Charnwood’s Gemma Steel, however, looked likely to challenge her at the front, especially after her 73:32 clocking at the Bristol Half Marathon this month but ultimately most eyes were focused on Kenyan Edith Chelimo who had a number of UK race wins to her credit already this year.
Heslop of Clapham Chasers, however, produced a stunning run on the day to seriously threaten Rehab Ddungu’s 2004 course record of 32:36 in the end finishing just four seconds outside that mark.
She still had the consolation of posting the second fastest run in the history of the race, staving off the challenge of pre-race favourite Chelimo who was only 8 seconds adrift in 32:48. Heslop was also the first British winner since Debbie Robinson in 2003 and had the added bonus £200 for First Briton home and also a further £200 in time bonuses on offer.
Gemma Steel was the third female home (33.47) and second Brit, followed by local favourite Andrea Whitcombe (Swansea Harriers), the former Olympic triathlete in 4th.
Neath’s Christopher Williams was the leading over-40 athlete in 33:06 with Richard Bullen of Les Croupiers winner of the over 50 category in 34.48 and Richard Marks of Sarn Helen winner of the over 60 section (38.16)
Swansea Harrier Whitcombe took the women’s over 35 veteran honours in a stunning time of 33.53 for 4th place and 3rd overall in the British positions with Melissa Watson of Trots securing the over 45 title(39.59) and Jacqueline Miles of Parc Bryn Bach winning the over 55 section in 46.08
Kenya’s Fidelis Chibet won the Junior under 20 Female prize (35.11)
For long-serving race director Nigel Jones in his 26thconsecutive year of overseeing the event the 31st running of one of the UK’s fastest races was another great success.
“It went really well with another record entry for a fourth successive year,” said Jones.
“It was a great run in particular from Justina Heslop in the women’s race to come so close to the course record and it also gave us a rare British winner with Edith’s run as runner up also being the 3rdfastest time ever on this course.”
The winner of the wheelchair race, watched by former London marathon winner Chris Hallam, was Stuart Bloor (26:45) of Crewe with Veteran Johnny Harries making a rare token appearance.
Connor Davies won the 5k junior race from Paul Tobin, while Jac Hopkins took the tape over 3k.