Pat Butcher, our roving global runner, tells us how Josephat Menjo, who in a period of 11 days this past August ran 12.55.95 for 5000 meters, a 3.53.62 mile, and a 26.56.74 for 10,000 meters, end his season today with a course record at the Belgrade Race Thru History! For more on
Pat Butcher, please check out www.globerunner.org.
HISTORIC END TO MENJO’S SEASON
Josphat Menjo of Kenya capped a historic breakthough season by
winning the Belgrade Race Through History this afternoon, taking five
seconds from the long standing course record, with 16.53 for the six
kilometre lap around the Kalemedgan fortress in the Serbian capital.
Menjo, 31, outsprinted compatriots Eliud Kipchoge and Stephen Tum,
who finished second and third, while Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar, in
the first road race of his eventful career just outleaned Kenya-based
New Zealander Jake Robertson for fourth.
Such was the quality of the field for the sun-soaked race, rather
than the threatened rain, that the top five ran faster or equal to the
record of 16.58, set by Brahim Lahlafi of Morocco at the inaugural event
Running his third race in eight days, with a flight back from the
Commonwealth Games in India thrown in, Kipchoge made all the running
after the first kilometre, having lost a shoe at the start, and stopping
to replace it. But Menjo was always on his compatriot’s heels around
the switchback course, which begins in the lower park beside the Danube,
and winds in and out of the gates of the fortress whose remains date
back over 2000 years, giving the race its name.
When Menjo made his move with around 400 metres to run, and stretched
out along the esplanade above the Sava river, Kipchoge could not
respond and conceded in the final metres. “It’s a difficult course, and
the race was very fast,” said Menjo, “I didn’t train that hard for it,
but I thought he (Kipchoge) might be a little tired. I was surprised he
ran so well”.
The consensus was that the course was difficult to negotiate. This
thing is tough, man,” ventured Shaheen, “unless you’re in top form. I’m
not on good terms with corners, I think guys leaning forward do better,”
he said, referring to his upright running stance”.
“That’s not a road race,” said Jake Robertson. “It’s a mountain
race,” added his twin, Zane, who finished seventh. “He made a move with
about 300 metres to go,” said Kipchoge of Menjo, “you need to get to the
last corner first. With 30 metres to go, I had nothing left”.
With most of the competitors heading off for an Autumn break –
“starting right now,” said Kipchoge decisively – Menjo can look back on a
season which has seen him install himself as one of the leading track
distance runners in the world. In the space of 11 days in late August,
he ran 12.55.95 for 5000 metres, a 3.53.62 mile, and a 26.56.74 10,000
metres, the fastest of the year. Prior to that, he was best known for an
eighth place in the world championships 10,000 metres in Osaka 2007,
and a fifth place in the African Championships two years ago.
“I’m going to relax now,” he said, “and take a break for two weeks,
before I start training for cross country”. The focus for the sport
remains in Belgrade, however, since the city is hosting the European
Athletics Convention, beginning tomorrow until Sunday.