Eritrean Nguse Amlesom captured commanding victory at Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on the New Year eve, frustrating what could be the first Spanish victory in 13 years.
Amlesom won with 28:09, the third best mark in the history of the race. Spain’s Ilias Fifa and Toni Abadía finished second and third respectively third.
The 30-year-old from Denden Athletics Team, became the second ever Eritrean to win the event after Zersenay Tadese’s victory back in 2010.
“Over the early stages I didn’t feel comfortable but after halfway I began to work properly,” said Amlesom. “Even when Fifa caught me before the final sprint, I was confident of my win, as I’m the African champion.”
In the absence of the last two years race winner, the Turkish-Kenyan Mike Kigen, Nguse Amlesom was the race favourite.
In that colder than expected night, UK’s Chris Thompson was the early leader while he had opened a 10- metre gap over his closest pursuers during the uphill stretch within the first kilometre.
The leading pack went through the halfway point in 13:58 and no fewer than 12 athletes with winning chances still remained. The first key movement came with little more than three kilometres left when Amlesom injected a brisker pace which was only covered by Spain’s European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa.
The clock read 19:30 for the seventh kilometre split and it became clear that, barring disaster, either Amlesom or Fifa would be the eventual winner.
The two leaders took turns at the front until the ninth kilometre when the Eritrean broke away from the Spaniard to open a 15-metre gap. It appeared to all be over, but Fifa bounced back and managed to join Amlesom just entering the stadium of football club Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish capital’s southern suburbs.
Amlesom found another gear inside the stadium to finally prevail by two seconds over Fifa.
“When Amlesom broke away from me with ease with one kilometre left, I knew it would be difficult for me to win,” said Fifa. “I could join him then but I didn’t have any more energy in the tank for the final sprint. Anyway, I became European champion in the summer and today I managed a 10km Personal Best (PB) so I can’t ask for more to the year 2016.”
Amlesom is not targeting the World Cross Country Championships. Instead, he aims to improve on his PB of 59:39 at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on 10 February before spending five or six weeks in his hometown.
His main aim for the summer is to compete in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 before making his marathon debut in the autumn.
There were more than 42,000 runners participated in this year’s San Silvestre Vallecana, the most populous in the world.
A perfect farewell to 2016. Athlete Nguse Amlesom wins Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, with a time of 28:09, the third best mark in the history of the race.