Belihu led from the front
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.
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.
The first woman to win back-to-back titles
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 USD213,000, with the men's and women's winners each taking home USD 26,000.
Jadhav wins for consecutive year
Among Indian women, Sanjivani Jadhav won the race for consecutive year by crossing the line in 35:10 ahead of Parul Chaudhary, who clocked 35:36. "I was carrying a niggle in my hamstring so am happy to have finished on top, but I could have surely achieved a better time," Jadhav, who finished 10th overall, said.
Chaudhary, who was trailing in the first 2.5 km, said she was confident of a podium finish. "I know my body well and knew when to pace, so I wasn’t worried about my slow start," she said.
Chinta Yadav (36:34) sprung a surprise to finish third.
Karan Singh overcame pre-race favourites
Among Indian men, Karan Singh aced pre-race favourites G Lakshmanan and Avinash Sable to win the race in 29:55. Singh recorded the second fastest time ever for Indian elite men in TCS World 10K at 29:55. Lakshmanan finished second in 30:02 while Sable was third in 30:36.
"Before the race, I had decided to be close to Lakshmanan because he had a good time on this course thinking that would help me to achieve a good time and a favourable result too," said Singh who was preparing for the race since finishing third at the Mumbai Marathon in January.
The Indian winners took home Rs 275,000, while second and third place finishers got Rs 200,000 and Rs 150,000 respectively.