LONDON – Total domination.
In her first race of 2017, world record holder and Olympic champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia absolutely obliterated the field to claim her second straight global title in the women’s 10,000 meters tonight at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. After a pedestrian first nine laps, she put the pedal to the metal and in one of the finest displays in female distance running history went on to win by an incredible 46.37 seconds by running 30:16.32, lapping the entire field save for the top 4 finishers.
Ayana ripped off 16 straight laps in the 65- to 70-second range and ran her final 5k in a remarkable 14:24.94, a time only seven women have ever bettered for 5k (her 5k from 4k to 9k was also a quick 14:25.93).
Ayana’s compatriot, Tirunesh Dibaba, the most decorated 10,000 runner in history (5 global 10k titles, 1 bronze), was the best of the rest as she grabbed silver in 31:02.69 in her first track race of 2017 as Kenya’s Agnes Tirop, the 2015 world cross country champion, took the bronze in 31:03.50. Kenya’s Alice Aprot, who was fourth in Rio last year, was fourth once again (31:11.86). Top non-African honors went to the Netherlands’ Susan Krumins (née Kuijken) as the former Florida State star ran a pb of 31:20.25 (previous pb of 31:31.97), just ahead of 2015 world championship bronze medallist Emily Infeld of the US who also ran a pb of 31:20.45 to take sixth (previous pb 31:22.67). The other two Americans in the field, Molly Huddle (8th, 31:24.78) and Emily Sisson (9th, 31:26.36), ran in the same pack as Krumins and Infeld but were outgunned over the final lap.
Even though the race started with great mid-60-degree weather, the pace was very slow for the first nine laps. The field passed 1600 in 5:29.38 and 3200 in 10:37.25. After the ninth lap was run in 76.30, Ayana had had enough and she went to the front and ripped off a 68.64 to reach 4k in 13:02.20 (32:35 pace; the first nine laps were run at 33:02 pace). Only Turkey’s Yasemin Can, the European champ at 5000 and 10,000 last year who has a 14:36 5000 pb, dared to go with her. A lap later (67.89), Can had been dropped (and she’d pay a steep price for going with Ayana as she’d finish 11th in 31:35.48) and Ayana was on her own. Once clear of the field, Ayana did not let off the gas.
In total, she ripped off nine straight laps at 69.0 (slowest was 69.03) or faster. While Ayana was slowing a little bit on each successive kilometer, there would be no repeat of the last year’s Olympic 5000 where she was caught from behind after going too big with a mid-race surge. For the final 16 laps of the race, Ayana didn’t run slower than 70.87. Ayana ran her final six kilometers in 2:49.18, 2:51.59, 2:52.22, 2:54.84, 2:56.80 and 2:49.49.