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Bishop wins two-horse race

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By a length: Bishop celebrates as he prepares to cross the finish line ahead of Yigezu on Front Street. Results, page 18. Picture gallery: www.royalgazette.com

David Bishop won an anti-climactic KPMG Front Street Mile Elite Men’s race as the Bermuda Marathon Weekend got off to a typically soggy start last night.

Bishop, of Britain, came home in a time of 4min 20.15sec just over a second ahead of Diriba Yigezu, of Ethiopia, who ran a 4:21.38, the only other man in the race.

What had started out as a five-man field was whittled down to just three in the hours leading up to the race, and Henry Kipsang, of Kenya, dropped out at the last minute to leave Bishop and Yigezu to fight it out between them. It is the first time the race has been that small.

“It was a weird experience, I’ve never done that before,” Bishop said. “I’ve had three before, never two, it was kind of weird. I’ve missed a lot of training recently with an achilles issue, and when I saw there was two of us I thought it could be a ‘sit and kick kind of burn up’ which I didn’t want.”

Bishop has been working with James Thie, a previous Front Street Mile champion, for the past seven years and that knowledge had already given him an idea of how he wanted to run the race.

“If it was a super fast race [I planned] to just go hard from 400 metres out, if it was [going to be] like it was today [the plan] was to wait as late as possible.”

Yigezu, who also finished second last year, led for much of the mile, but the work he was forced to do running back into the wind ultimately cost him as Bishop kicked past him with 30 metres to go, and finished comfortably ahead.

“My plan all along was to just sit on him and try and get the win. He’d done so much work on the way back [to the finish] with the wind in his face I was just sat in riding him, and I was pretty confident that he’d be more tired than I was.”

The rain, combined with the historically small field, meant that the magical four-minute barrier was never likely to be threatened, but Bishop, who has a personal best of 3:56.96 believes that he could break it if the conditions were right.

“It [Bermuda] is a great little place, I’ve had a great time. Hopefully next year I’ll come back, be in better shape and hopefully there will be a few more guys here and we can try and break that four-minute barrier. I think I would be able to do it, but those corners make it a 3:55 sort of effort.”

There was slightly more excitement in the Elite Women’s race where Heather Kampf, of United States, completed a hat-trick of wins, joining Kenia Sinclair, of Jamaica, the only other woman to have achieved that feat.

A relatively slow affair compared to recent years, the defending champion’s winning time of 4:53.32 was almost 10 seconds slower than last year. Lauren Hagans, of the US, finished second in 4:56.96, with Charlotte Arter, of Britain, third in 4:58.49. The trio stuck together for the majority of the race, while Rolanda Bell, of Panama, who won the Elite Women’s 10K last year, never seriously challenged the pack and came in fourth in 5:00.39, with Chloe Anderson, of Britain, fifth in 5:11.49.

Kampf led from start to finish, and although she was briefly challenged by Anderson, who finished in 5:11.49, never really seemed in danger of losing and was comfortably ahead coming down the final 50 metres.

“It was a little slower, I think we didn’t have anyone who was excited to take it out from the beginning,” Kampf said. “I generally like to hang in a pack and break away later on so I just ran comfortably, ran in contact with the field, and then when you make your decision [to go] it’s time.”

The race was Kampf’s first of the year and she is developing a fondness for coming to Bermuda and starting her season on a winning note.

“This has been so great, the fans here are awesome and I love the support that you get,” she said. “It really is a great atmosphere.”

Kampf’s weekend is not over either, she said that she plans to run in today’s 10K and depending how she is feeling may try and complete her first Bermuda Triangle Challenge by running a half-marathon tomorrow.

David Bishop, right, and Diriba Yigezu after the Elite Men's KPMG Front Street Mile. (Photo by Akil Simmons)