A rainbow over the beach and monkeys on the road welcomed runners to the Bangsaen 10k.
Men’s winner, Hicham Amghar wove his way through the latter and was greeted by the former as the Moroccan won the men’s title in 29 minutes flat early Sunday morning in the beach resort south of Bangkok. Despite trying to force the pace from the start, there were no takers to share the lead, so Amghar throttled back and acknowledged afterwards that the slow first kilometre (3:09), cost him any chance of attacking the course record of 28.06. But he ran a canny race. He was unwilling to concede on Saturday that his knowledge of the course from a previous run here might give him an advantage, but when the hills in the middle kilometres intervened, with Kenyan Stanley Kamau holding a 30-metre lead, Amghar came into his own.
Kamau had gone solo after a first 5k in 13:41, but the hills proved his undoing. Amghar came off the crest of the hills with two kilometres to run — an initial downhill and flat finish along the coast road — with a sufficient lead to hold off the challenge of Chimdessa Gudeta of Ethiopia who, despite closing fast just ran out of road, as evidenced by his time of 29:01. Kamau clocked 29:11 for third.
“I knew about the hills,’ said Kamau, “but I went too early; I wasn’t able to do anything when he came past.” Amghar conceded that he was being kind at the press conference on Saturday.
“I knew that the others would overestimate the ups and downs after 6k. I waited until I knew I could manage my effort through to the finish.” Give a nod to Krysztof Hadas in tenth in 31:16. He is primarilly a triathlete, but was easily the best of the rest behind Amghar and the East Africans.
Like Amghar, Loice Chemnung of Kenya didn’t look a likely winner at halfway either, loitering at the back of a group of five at halfway. But again, like the Moroccan, she took advantage of the hilly middle kilometres, caught the leaders at the top of the rise and raced down to victory, in 32:04, just three seconds outside the record set by Turkey’s Yasemin Can in 2019. Faith Chepkoech suffered a similar fate to her colleague Kamau. After she and Betelihem Yemer of Ethiopia had broken away from the group, she took the initiative, but conceded at the crest of the hills to a surging Chemnung, while Yemer rallied and took second in 32:35, with Chepkoech three seconds back.
Road running is booming in south-east Asia, and this is one of three events in Bangsaen, with a marathon in early November, and the big event, the Bangsaen half-marathon, a World Athletics platinum event on December 17.
A slight drizzle before the start of the 10k gave rise to the rainbow and dampened the temperatures such that the locals complained of the cold. Such is the reaction to 26C (79F) in these parts. We of course were sweating just watching. As for the monkeys, they seemed as intrigued as any of the other onlookers that anyone would be storming past them at such an early hour.