Unheralded Zimbabwean athlete Collen Makaza and Susan Harrison of Great Britain brought home gold at the 2nd IAU 50km World Trophy athletics final in Galway, Ireland on at the weekend.
Makaza ran a time of 2:47:21s and Harrison clocked 3:15:42s to take the top titles. The runners were selected on the basis of their times in selection races held around the world.
Runners took advantage of temperatures in the low teen on race day to clock some of the fastest 50km times of the year. As a result the race did live up to its pre-race billing of being one of the fastest 50k start lists ever assembled.
In the men’s race the competition was a three-person race for two-thirds of the run with Makaza, Sandile Ngunuzza (South Africa) and Joseph Mphuthi (South Africa) sharing the workload in the front, until Makaza made the decisive move at 34km and placed himself solely at the head of the pack.
Ngunuzza finished 2nd followed by Michael Wardian (US), last year’s bronze medallist who had an outstanding second half of the race.
Makaza ran a time of 2:47:21 to grab the top honours. Ngunuzza finished the run in 2:53:05 and Wardian crossed the line in 2:54:56.
In the women’s race Harrison, a 2:38 marathoner, came out on top. She had a strong lead after the first 5km and never relinquished it running consistently through quite a difficult course.
She was followed into the finish line by Mary Coordt (US) and pre-race favourite Irene Kalter (Netherlands).
Harrison ran 3:15:42 to take the gold medal in a very competitive field. Coordt clocked 3:28:30 to take silver and Kalter had 3:34:21 to bring home the bronze medal.
The next race on the IAU calendar is the 100km World & European Championships on November 7th in Gibraltar.