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Menjo wins Zatopek:10 at Olympic Park
John Salvado
22:46 AEST Thu Dec 9 2010

Kenyan runner Josphat Menjo lived right up to his star billing in the 50th anniversary edition of the Zatopek:10 on Thursday night, recording the fastest winning time this century in the annual classic.

Menjo - who heads the year-long 10,000m rankings - ran the last half of the race on his own at Olympic Park, stopping the clock at 27 minutes 39.80 seconds.

It was the slickest time recorded at the Zatopek in 12 years, while the winning margin of 26 seconds was the biggest since 2002.

Australian Ben St Lawrence claimed the national 10,000m title by finishing second in 28:05.25, while American Bobby Curtis was third in 28:08.78.

Menjo's victory revived memories of the late 1990s when Kenyan runners won the annual classic on six successive occasions.

Four of those victories were by Luke Kipkosgei, who belied his age of 35 to cross the finish line in fifth place on Thursday night.

But the night was all about Menjo, who learnt to run while serving a stint in the Kenyan army.

His 2010 leading time of 26:56.74 was achieved without the aid of pacemakers in Finland in August.

And although the first 2km of the Zatopek was controlled by pacemakers, Menjo did pretty much all of the rest of the work on his own.

"I am happy with my time as it is December and I haven't been training for this," said Menjo.

"I slowed down to try and take them with me at 5000m but they didn't come."

Defending champion Collis Birmingham was never in the hunt for a third title, finishing a distant seventh.

Sydney's Eloise Wellings stripped more than 10 seconds off the personal best she set in Melbourne 12 months ago to win a second straight women's Zatopek:10 in 32:08.32.

Wellings controlled the race throughout, dropping closest challenger Lara Tamsett with more than 3km to go.

Although pleased with the PB, Wellings was unable to match the tough 10,000m qualifying standard of 31:45 which would have ensured selection for next year's world championships in Daegu, Korea.

"It's there, I know it's in me," said Wellings.

"I could come up with a lot of excuses to why I didn't do it but it was the best I could do on the night.

"Hopefully I get another chance, maybe in the US in April."

Tamsett, the 2008 Zatopek champion, was second in 32:32.02 and Jessica Trengove - the sister of young Melbourne AFL star Jack Trengove - was third in 34:21.14.