Haile Gebrselassie showed with a fifth victory and achieved in a pulsating 2012 World leading time of 27 minutes 39 seconds that despite setbacks in his marathon career he is still the master craftsman ahead of his young pretenders over 10 kilometres.
Gebrselassie on a Sunday morning where former World 10,000 metres gold medallist Linet Masai of Kenya was equally dominant when taking the women's title in 31:35 produced a dazzling display as he flew around the streets of the north west of England's capital city.
The "Emperor" as he is affectionately known, in ideal running conditions decimated the current crop of top marathoners with his fastest 10km performance since clocking exactly the same time on the fast and flat course when scoring what was then his second Bupa Great Manchester Run success three years.
Gebrselassie has been unbeaten in Manchester at the IAAF Gold Label and the biggest 10km event in the United Kingdom since that occasion and today he virtually tied up the latest win when stepping up a gear just after three kilometres.
The 39-year-old eased alongside a vintage pack of world class rivals which included Patrick Makau the Kenyan who took away his world marathon record in Berlin last autumn plus his own fellow Ethiopian's Tsegay Kebede and Ayele Abshero before stretching the pace.
It was a decisive break which left his younger opponents reeling and to chase the two remaining podium positions as the gap quickly became longer and longer as he forged to his 17th victory in 19 appearances since making his 10km debut in Dongio 18 years ago where he finished runner up.
While he had time to smile and acknowledge the encouragement and support of spectators lining the route, Kebede the 2008 Olympic marathon bronze medallist and Ayele Abshero the fastest performer over the distance this year with his triumph in Dubai, fought a thrilling encounter.
Kebede at 25 four years older than Abshero who was celebrating being named in Ethiopia's Olympic Games team a few days earlier while he and Gebrselassie were omitted, took the scalp of the young pretender and former World Junior Cross Country champion.
But their encounter went to the wire when fighting to get air into their lungs they staged a grandstand finish and shared what are new personal best times and their first ever sub-28min clockings of 27:56.
They were followed home by Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich also bound for the London Olympic marathon who was also rewarded with a PB mark of 28:19 and in another close finish held off Makau by two seconds.
The latter after dropping out of the Virgin London Marathon a month ago was content with his showing after the drama of recent weeks when despite being a world record holder, the Kenyan selectors surprisingly omitted him from their Olympic squad.
Gebrselassie's dominant run where he passed through the half distance in 13:31 saw his second split of 14:08 lower the world lead fellow countryman Kenenisa Bekele posted when winning last month's SPAR Great Ireland Run in Dublin with a time of 27:47.
"That wasn't really on my mind but yes, it is nice that it happened," said Gebrselassie with his usual beaming big smile after his fourth consecutive Mancunian win after having picked up the first of the five in 2005 in what was then a UK All-Comers' record of 27:25.
"For me it was just great that I ran so quickly and it reflected on what my training suggested I might do. For a change the Manchester weather was good and I felt very good from start to finish."
Gebrselassie grinning like a Cheshire Cat when asked whether he plans chasing a 10,000m position in what will be the official Ethiopian Olympic trial at the FBK-Games in Hengelo next Sunday, replied: "Possibly....we'll see."
Masai the odds-on favourite was never troubled in her contest where she was quite happy to follow a fairly quick pace imposed by Mara Yamauchi looking to get some speed into her legs before her second successive Olympic Marathon appearance in August.
Yamauchi led a group of Europeans Nadia Ejjafini and Anna Incerti of Italy plus her British colleagues Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue through 3km in 9:29 with Masai and fellow Kenyan's Doris Changiwo and Irene Jerotich tagged on the back of the pack.
Steel who has been the host nation's most prominent runner for the last 12 months and won the SPAR Great Ireland Run ahead of Purdue surprisingly fell away with Ejjafini who has represented both Morocco and Bahrain before becoming an Italian citizen in 2009, taking up the pace.
Then at 5km (15:47) Masai put in a telling surge which immediately broke the backs of her rivals and successive kilometre splits of 3:08 and 3:04 saw her roar away to a 17sec success from 34-year-old Ejjafini who was rewarded with a PB and Changeiywo the 2010 Commonwealth Games marathon silver medallist who recorded 32:04.
Then came the short but fastly moving feet of 20-year-old Purdue a former European Junior Cross Country title holder who won the battle of the Brit contingent in a time of 32:13 with Yamauchi sixth and Steel ninth crossing the line in 32:28 and 33:42.
"She (Yamauchi) went off fast, so I was just happy to sit in," said Masai the event's first Kenyan champion since her training partner World 5000m and 10,000 gold medallist scored the nation's first Manchester victory three years ago.
|Mavis Hutchison of Fish Hoek, South Africa’s Galloping Granny||(3)|
|Imane Merga, Sylvia Kibet sign up for BOclassic New Year Run||(3)|
|South Africa names 33 juniors for Windhoek Southern Regionals||(2)|
|INTERVIEW: Gloria Asumnu on London 2012, World Indoor debut & Team Nigeria||(2)|
|London 2012: South Africa unveil team Ambassadors at 100 days-to-go Olympic launch||(2)|