Adugna and Kipkoech were first across the finish line at the Marseille Cassis 20k in France

Olika Adugna of Ethiopia became the first runner in more than a decade to retain a Marseille Cassis 20km title, while Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech prevailed for the first time in the challenging French race on Sunday (27).

A group of eight runners – Shadrack Korir Kipyegon, who entered the race at last minute, Joseph Koech, Gilbert Korir, Gerald Vincent, Dennis Rutoh, Josphat Kiprono Menjo, Adugna and his compatriot Yasin Haji – went through 5km in 15:09.

The leading pack then tackled the first slopes of the tough 327-metre climb up to the Col de la Gineste. Adugna changed gears on the steepest slopes of the Col de la Gineste, breaking the field and building a small lead from the first chasers to hit the summit 10km into the race in 32:15, 11 seconds ahead of Kipyegon and 12 seconds ahead of Haji.

Adugna covered the next five kilometres – mainly downhill – in 14:26 to reach the 15km checkpoint in 46:41, nine seconds ahead of Haji. Kipyegon started to fade and was now 23 seconds adrift the leader.

Adugna held on to capture his second win at this race in 1:01:10, 41 seconds slower than last year.

Haji was eventually forced to withdraw in the waning stages. Menjo, who was fourth at 10km, finished strongly to place second in 1:01:50 as Korir Kipyegon rounded the podium in 1:02:13.

In the women’s race, a trio of Kenyans –Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech, Lucy Macharia and Lydia Nialaka Simiyu – separated themselves from the gun and hit 5km in 16:49, 37 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

As expected, pre-race favourite Jepkorir ratcheted up the pace in the Col de la Gineste and reached the summit and the 10km mark in 35:52, almost one minute ahead of Simiyu and 1:04 ahead of Macharia. The gap continued to grow over the next kilometres.

Jepkorir Kipkoech, who improved her half marathon PB to 1:07:12 one month ago, didn’t fade in the closing stages to seal the win in 1:07:54, 2:23 ahead of Simiyu and 2:42 ahead of Macharia.

posted Sunday October 27th