World 5000m champion Almaz Ayana stepped up in distance to the 10,000m for the Ethiopian Olympic Trial race in Hengelo on Wednesday (29) and showed she has the potential to dominate that event in the same way she does her specialist distance.
With the likes of double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and world silver medallist Gelete Burka on the start line, the race would have been a baptism of fire for any other runner. But Ayana isn’t just any runner.
The women’s field fell into single file within the first few minutes of the race. Dibaba positioned herself right behind the pace maker while Ayana was just a couple of positions behind, seemingly running well within herself.
The pace maker dropped out at half way, after which Ayana set off on her own. Less than two kilometres later, her lead over Dibaba had grown to 50 metres.
Ayana continued with her relentless pace during the closing kilometres and went on to cross the finish line in 30:07.00, the fastest debut 10,000m performance in history. She also moved to eighth on the world all-time list and her time is the fastest in the world for seven years.
Some way behind, Burka and Dibaba were locked in their own battle for second and third place. Dibaba made up a bit of ground on Burka down the home straight but couldn’t quite catch her compatriot before the line and had to finish for third place.
Burka set a PB of 30:28.47 in second place, while Dibaba – who until today had been undefeated at 10,000m throughout her whole career – settled for third in 30:28.53.
In a race of tremendous depth, it was the first time in history that nine women from the same nation had run faster than 31 minutes in the same 10,000m race.
World cross-country bronze medallist Netsanet Gudeta was fourth in 30:36.75 while Genet Ayalew was fifth in 30:37.38, PBs for both. World 5000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi, also making her 10,000m debut, clocked 30:40.59 in sixth.