Kolkata, Dec 17 : World record holder in 5000m and 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia made an effortless transition to 25km running as he won the TSK 25K elite men's race here today.
Degitu Azimeraw then made it an all-Ethiopian affair by winning the 25K elite women's category with a timing of 1 hour 26 minutes and 01 seconds.
In the elite national section, 21-year-old Maharashtra runner Avinash Sable set a course record of 1:15:17, bettering the previous mark set by G Lakshmanan who came third in 1:17:13, which also was better than the last edition's timing.
Kalidas Hirave came second in 1:16:18 as all the three of them bettered 2016 course record of 1:17:23.
In the elite women's national section, L Suriya won the race with a timing of 1:26:53, getting past Sudha Singh's course record of 1:27:31.
Manju Yadav came second in 1:32:51, while Jhuma Khatun came third in 1:32:58.
A winner of eight gold medals in Olympic and World Championships, Bekele had made a perfect marathon debut winning in Paris 2014.
The Ethiopian made a smooth transition to 25K as he paced his race brilliantly and stayed in the mix till the 21K before breaking loose with his giant strides and went past the finish line in 1:13:48.
His closest competitor Tsegay Tuemay (1:14:29) was nowhere in sight when he went past the finish line. Augustino Sulle was third in 1:14:41.
Bekele's timing, however, was a shade lower than his intermediate time of 1:12:47 en route to winning the Berlin Marathon 2016.
Regretting the lack of a pacemaker, he said: "I was pushing myself, but that was not enough. I would have pushed my timing by 90 seconds at least if I had a pacemaker."
The leading pack went through the 7.5 km checkpoint with a sluggish 24:24. Before the halfway mark, Bekele briefly went through a bad patch and drifted off the back of the leaders, with his compatriot Asefa Diro leading at 12km in 39:09 and Bekele seven seconds adrift in fifth place.
Bekele, however, quickly came back in the hunt in the group of fifth placed Asefa Diro, Tuemay, Sulle and Sable. The Ethiopian went ahead with seven kilometres to go for a majestic finish.
"It was my first 25K and it feels good to have won it. It was a tactical race and I paced myself depending on the kind of competition I faced," said Bekele.
"The weather was good, though a little smokey in certain parts. But it was not difficult to manage. I would like to come back here next year," he said.
Face of the event was cricket icon Sourav Ganguly as he encouraged about more than 10,000 runners, along with long jump legend Mike Powell, the international ambassador.
"This is amazing to see the number of people come out and run in the morning. It's special to have the world champion of distance running competing along with the long jump world record holder.
"I am thrilled to see so many people come out and run. And the standard of the elite field is also great. The race is competitive and fun to watch," Powell said.
25K Elite Men: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 1:13:48; Tsegay Tuemay (ERI) 1:14:29; Augustino Sulle (TAN) 1:14:41.
25K Elite Men India: Avinash Sable 1:15:17; Kalidas Hirave 1:16:18; G Lakshmanan 1:17:13.
25K Elite Women: Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 1:26:01; Helah Kiprop(KEN) 1:26:04; Failuna Matanga (TAN) 1:26:11.
25K Elite Women India: L Suriya 1:26:53; Manju Yadav 1:32:51; Juma Khatun 1:32:58.