– Ninth edition of world’s premiere 10k race set for Sunday, May 15
– Total prize money purse increased to US$ 197,768
– 2015 men’s winner Mosinet Geremew returning to defend
Bengaluru, India – Freshly minted world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir will lead another stellar field at the TCS World 10K in Bengaluru on Sunday May 15, organisers of the world’s premiere 10km race announced today (April 19).
The 22-year-old Kenyan produced one of the biggest surprises of 2016 when she captured the world title at the IAAF World Half Marathon championships in Cardiff on March 26 to catapult herself to the forefront of the world road running stage. That victory has given the rising star a necessary confidence boost as she enters the next phase of her career, which includes facing another formidable field in her first race in India.
“I am slowly getting used to it,” she said of her new role as a world champion. “It still feels strange, but very good!”
A party in her honour that awaited her back home in Kapsabet probably helped the new superlative sink in.
“When I returned to Kenya from Cardiff my church community organised a party for me with more than 100 people. It was a fantastic moment, we danced and sang and celebrated God who gave me the strength to win.”
Jepchirchir arrived at the championships with solid credentials, boosted by a 1:06:39 run at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in January. But expectations weren’t high, her own or those of others. She was only fourth in Ras Al Khaimah, finishing behind two runners she would face again in Cardiff, and was just the third fastest on the Kenyan squad.
But all that mattered little when she pulled away from teammate Cynthia Limo over the final kilometre to claim her first world title. Running through a downpour didn’t seem to affect her much, either.
“Winning Cardiff improved my self-esteem and convinced me that a good constant training and professionalism are essential to reach the best goals. It was also a great motivation for me.”
Expectations will now change each time she toes a start line, a new dimension Jepchirchir welcomes.
“I don’t think [being a world champion] will add a lot of pressure but it will surely be more challenging. My career and experience has taught me that if you feel confident in your training you cannot fear the other runners, but you must simply give your best.”
Despite her global achievement this year, 10km might be her better distance. She has a personal best of 30:55 from 2015, which suggests that an assault on the 31:46 TCS World 10K course record set by Lucy Kabuu in 2014 could be in the works.
“When I am at the start line of every race my main goal is to finish it in the best possible position, I do not particularly think of the time,” Jepchirchir said. “In any case I will surely do my best and I am very motivated.”
Part of that motivation lies in her Olympic aspirations. Jepchirchir said she is gunning for a spot on the Kenyan team in the 10,000m, and her outing in Bengaluru will prove a good gauge as she targets the national trials in late June.
But Jepchirchir's appearance in Bengaluru won't be an exhibition. She won't even be the fastest woman in the race. That honour belongs to Kenyan Gladys Chesire, whose 30:41 run in Berlin last October ranks her the ninth fastest of all-time.
Wude Ayalew of Ethiopia, a former course record holder, returns after a runner-up finish last year. Agnes Tirop, the 2015 world cross country champion, who'll be making her road running debut, is another runner to watch, along with Jackline Chepngeno, a former standout at the youth and junior levels who'll be making her second Bengaluru appearance.
“This year's TSC World 10km Bengaluru has attracted a similar classy field as previous editions, with particular emphasis on up and coming runners who look set to improve,” said Race Director Hugh Jones.
“Peres Jepchirchir, in winning the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff on 26 March, overcame top-class opposition from more established stars such as Cynthia Limo and Mary Wacera. We hope she might make further improvements in Bengaluru.”
Geremew set for title defence
In the men’s race, Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia will return to defend his hard won title. Last year, the Ethiopian, now 24, edged compatriot Fikadu Seboka by just two seconds in 28:16, a strong performance given the sometimes difficult Bengaluru course.
"The course is not so smooth in some areas so you have to be careful," said Geremew, who won the Hyderabad 10-K three years ago in 27:36, the fastest 10km ever run on Indian soil. " Bengaluru is a big and colorful race and I am really looking forward to coming back."
Geremew is one of eight men in the field who has dipped under 28 minutes for 10km, led by Mohamed Ziani of Morocco, who clocked 27:28 in Casablanca in March. The men's field also includes Patrick Makau, the former world record holder in the marathon (2:03:38) who'll be racing for the first time in India.
Look out for Kenyans Edwin Kipyego, the winner at this year's Hague Half Marathon who has a 27:36 best, and Josphat Bett, a former world junior champion with a 27:45 best. Two-time Amsterdam Marathon winner Bernard Kipyego, who has clocked 28:04, shouldn't be discounted.
All will be gunning for a share of the total prize pot of US$ 197,768, with US$ 23,000 going to the men’s and women’s race winners.