RUNNING JUST the second 25-lapper of her career, Sifan Hassan redefined the 10,000 in much the same way that Haile Gebrselassie did two decades before. The Dutch star won in 30:17.62, notable in itself, but it was how she won that dropped collective jaws.
As per her style, the 26-year-old former Ethiopian, now training in Oregon with Alberto Salazar, ran near the back in the early stages, content to pass 3K in a modest 9:32.26 in 18th. Young Ethiopian prospect Letesenbet Gidey shadowed her. Up front, Germany’s Alina Reh drew the short straw and led, while the American trio ran together ahead of a large African contingent in the middle of the pack. After the 3000 the Africans moved to the fore, Kenyans Agnes Tirop and Rosemary Wanjiru driving the pace down to 3:00-ish per kilometer. Hassan and Gidey moved up to join them. That split the race in two, with the Americans leading the second pack. At halfway, Tirop led in 15:32.70. The lead pack was down to 7, with Hassan in that last spot.
Over the next two kilos, the pace remained the same as the tension built. Only one runner, Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta, dropped off the back. Kenyan Hellen Obiri led past the 7K. Meanwhile, American training partners Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson took turns pacing the second pack. At 8K (24:44.90), Gidey led; the 21-year-old would ignite the fireworks. Just past 4 to go, she surged, putting 10m between herself and the field. Only it wasn’t a surge—it was the rest of the race. Gidey covered that 400 in 64.90, and the next in 65.32. The torrid clip burned off all the pretenders to the podium, including Obiri. Hassan seemingly woke up and went after Gidey, with Tirop staying admirably close.
The penultimate lap passed in 66.16, with Hassan taking over just before the bell. The rangy onetime refugee launched into her typically paranoid kick, arms flailing, legs striding beyond the limits of mortal imagination, looking over her shoulder frequently as if in disbelief that no one else on earth received the same gift of flight. She blistered the final circuit in 61.49, leaving Gidey nearly 50m behind with her year-leading 30:17.62. The Ethiopian crossed in 31:21.23 and she and Hassan hugged excitedly. Tirop finished 3rd in 30:25.20, with Wanjiru (30:35.75) and Obiri (30:35.82) completing a Kenyan team performance that in many others year might have swept the medals.
The U.S. trio finished as a unit in places 8–9–10, with Marielle Hall destroying her PR with a 31:05.71 to become the No. 6 American ever, followed by Huddle (31:07.24) and Sisson (31:12.56).
What remained vivid in the aftermath was the sublime finish of Hassan, who like Gebrselassie, has shown mastery of the impossible, finishing 25 laps with splits that would win many a shorter race. Her last 1500 took just 3:59.09; her second 5000, 14:43.80.
After a jubilant lap carrying flags of both the Netherlands and the Oromo, her native tribe in Ethiopia, the victor said, “This was a test for me. It was OK at the beginning but then when they were kicking at the front I had to try hard to keep in touch. But I knew I am more of a 1500 and 5K runner so if I could get close I would have enough to win. [Gidey] kept trying to kick but in the last 800m I knew I had it.” Now it’s decision time. Hassan would be the favorite in either the 5000 or 1500 but the schedule makes it impossible to do both. “I don’t know,” she said. “The last 3000 today was very hard so we’ll see what my coach says.”
WC WOMEN’S 10,000 RESULTS
(September 28) (temperature 77F/25C, humidity 67%)
1. Sifan Hassan (Hol) 30:17.62 PR (WL) (17, x W)
(15.52, 30.43, 61.49, 2:06.48, 4:17.15) (last 1500—3:59.09) (15:33.82/14:43.80);
2. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 30:21.23 PR
(16.95, 33.23, 64.87, 2:11.25, 4:20.96) (15:33.77/14:47.46);
3. Agnes Tirop (Ken) 30:25.20 PR
(16.55, 33.47, 67.31, 2:13.83, 4:25.30) (15:32.70/14:52.50);
4. Rosemary Wanjiru (Ken) 30:35.75 PR
5. Hellen Obiri (Ken) 30:35.82 PR (15:33.39/15:02.43);
6. Senbere Teferi (Eth) 30:44.23 (15:33.12/15:11.11);
7. Susan Krumins (Hol) 31:05.40 PR (15:42.48/15:22.92);
8. Marielle Hall (US) 31:05.71 PR (6, x A)
9. Molly Huddle (US) 31:07.24
10. Emily Sisson (US) 31:12.56
11. Hitomi Niiya (Jpn) 31:12.99;
12. Camille Buscomb (NZ) 31:13.21 PR;
13. Ellie Pashley (Aus) 31:18.89 PR;
14. Sinead Diver (Aus) 31:25.49 PR (over-40 record);
15. Steph Twell (GB) 31:44.79;
16. Stella Chesang (Uga) 32:15.20;
17. Natasha Wodak (Can) 32:31.19;
18. Rachael Chebet (Uga) 32:41.93 PR;
19. Minami Yamanouchi (Jpn) 32:53.46;
20. Juliet Chekwel (Uga) 33:28.18;
… dnf—Netsanet Gudeta (Eth), Alina Reh (Ger).
Leader splits: Reh 3:13.86, 6:20.82, 9:29.08; Wanjiru 12:30.99; Tirop 15:32.70; Wanjiru 18:36.29; Obiri 21:39.89; Gidey 24:44.90, 27:37.22.