World's fastest man Menjo to race Zatopek:10
Josphat Menjo, the fastest 10,000m track man in the world this year, is bound for Melbourne and will race next Thursday’s Zatopek:10 at Olympic Park. Undoubtedly the distance running revelation of the past 12 months, the 31-year-old Kenyan holds claim to the fastest 10,000m track performance of 2010 (26:56.74), and sits second on the year’s world list for the 10km road event (27:04).
After a string of stunning performances across the European summer, Menjo comes to Australia in career best form, with the Zatopek:10 race record of countryman Luke Kipkosgei (27:22.54) to come under threat when he squares off against Australia’s best over 25 laps next week.
Three personal best performances and race wins in 11-days saw Menjo captivate the attention of the athletics world in August. Opening with a 12:55.96 5000m in Turku, Finland on August 18 – four seconds outside the world leading time - Menjo backed up to record a highly respectable 3:53.62 mile three days later, in Joensuu. Returning to Turku, Menjo broke the revered 27-minute barrier for the first time, setting the year’s world best of 26:56.74 in a near solo run. His closest rival finished five minutes behind him.
A further indication of Menjo’s elite quality, each of the Kenyan’s front running victories was achieved without the assistance of pacemakers.
“It was a club race, and they said they would bring pacemakers. I said no, I can do it alone,” said Menjo, who recorded the first world leading 10,000m mark in Turku’s Paavo Nurmi Stadium since Australian athletics great Ron Clarke (28:14.0) in 1965.
With a runner-up placing at last Sunday’s 27th ‘Cross Internacional Valle de Llodio’ in Spain, Menjo will arrive in Melbourne full of confidence, after claiming the scalps of renowned Eritrean cross country performers Samuel Tsegay and Kidane Tadese.
“This has been my best season. In Melbourne, I come to win and run fast.”
Among Menjo’s major challengers for the men’s Zatopek:10 crown are defending champion and Australian 10,000m record holder Collis Birmingham (VIC), Commonwealth Games representative and 2010 City-2-Surf winner Ben St Lawrence (NSW), American 2008 Zatopek:10 runner-up Bobby Curtis, and Australia’s 2008 NCAA Track & Field Championships 10,000m runner-up Shawn Forrest (VIC).
If Menjo fulfils his promise at the 50th anniversary edition of the Zatopek:10, he’ll join the likes of Clarke, Steve Moneghetti, Andrew Lloyd, Craig Mottram and Collis Birmingham on the honour roll of the track classic’s past winners.
Hailing from the Nandi Hills area of Kenya’s famous Rift Valley (near Eldoret), Menjo has produced a string of fast 10,000m times in recent years (2007 – 27:04.61; 2008 – 27:09.37).
Menjo is scheduled to arrive in Melbourne next Monday 6th December, 2010.
The Zatopek:10 will be held at Olympic Park, Melbourne on Thursday 9th December 2010, with racing from 6:30pm.
Tickets to Zatopek:10 can be purchased via the Athletics Victoria website (www.athsvic.org.au) or by calling (03) 9428 8195.