Geoffrey Kipsang and Helah Kiprop led a Kenyan sweep of the top three places in the overall men's and women's categories of the Tata Consultancy World 10K Bangalore run here on Sunday.
Kipsang, a former Junior World Cross Country Champion and runner-up at the Delhi Half Marathon, raced from the front right from the start to finish in 28 minutes flat, just nine seconds outside the course record of 27.51.
Countrymen Alex Korio (28:09) and Victor Kipchirchir (28:15) finished second and third, beating the Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa to the fourth place 2012 in the IAAF Gold Label event.
Former champion and fancied name Deriba Merga finished way below in the rankings as did 25km World Record holder and pre-race favourite Dennis Kimetto who was done in by injury.
The women's race, run in relatively hotter conditions, saw Kiprop winning in 32:22 minutes, followed home by compatriots Esther Chimutai (32:34) and Doris Changeywo (32:44).
The overall winners took home $21,000 each, with the second and third-placed runners richer by $12,000 and $8,000, respectively.
Rahul Kumar Pal and Monika Athre emerged winners among the men and women in the Indian category, finishing overall 21st and 17th.
The Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune cadet, Pal was home in 30:15 minutes, followed by teammate Mohammed Yunus, who also clocked the same time, but was separated by the chest in the photo-finish. In third place was Kheta Ram (30:17).
The women's race was won by the young Monika, another running prodigy from the village that has produced former winner Kavita Raut, beating an illustrious field of Indian women. Monika finished in 36.46, followed by Swati Gadhave (37.14) and Priyanka Singh Patel (37.23).
The Nation's Challenge saw Maharashtra emerging champions ahead of Rajasthan and Jharkhand.
With early morning showers lowering the temperature and making for a cool start at 7.10 for the men, Kipsang, in the company of Ugandan Moses Kipsiro and Alex Korio, led from the front, trailed closely by Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa and the rest of the bunch.
The leading bunch of about 10 runners was on course record target at the 5 km mark, crossing it in 14:07 minutes.
After 6 kms, Kipsang dropped the pace a bit and fell back for about a kilometer to judge the reaction from his fellow runners as well as the gauge their condition, before pushing again to take the lead.
Kipsang led a bunch of five runners over the 7 km mark in 19.54 and then struck out further to cross the 8 km marker in 22:36. At this juncture, the other two had fallen behind and Kipsang entered the stadium comfortably in the lead and completed a lap to breast the tape.
Kipsang said: "I got into early rhythm on the flat course and as the weather was good, I could sustain the momentum.
"I was pushing hard and did not want the others to take advantage of this and then sprint past me, hence I slackened the pace a bit to judge their reaction. When I saw they were all going strong, I began pushing once again."
The women's race too was closely contested with Kiprop leading the way. Kiprop stayed with the pack till eight kms when she decided that she had a chance to go for the kill.
"I was just trying to push myself for most part of the race, but when I reached 8-km mark, I said oh maybe I can try (to win)," said Kiprop.