Rare defeat for Bekele as he is snowed under by Ebuya

Stunning upset in cross-country race as favourite suffers from inability to train

The big freeze continued in the east end of Edinburgh yesterday. The considerable assets of Kenenisa Bekele were stuck in refrigeration on the snowbound course at the foot of Arthur's Seat as the feature race of the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross County meeting unfolded. They were stuck so solid that the great Ethiopian king of middle- distance running was reduced to the humbling role of a mere also-ran.

When a trio of Kenyan runners started to forge ahead midway through the 9km men's race, Bekele was unable to claw back the lost ground. The gaps got bigger and bigger as Joseph Ebuya and Titus Mbishi proceeded to duel for victory, with their better known compatriot Eliud Kipchoge, who beat Bekele when he won the World Championship 5,000 metres title as an 18-year-old in Paris in 2003, an isolated third. Ebuya kicked to victory in 28min 41sec, shaking his head as he crossed the line. The 22-year-old, fourth in last year's World Cross Country Championships, could hardly believe he had claimed the treasured scalp of Bekele.

The Ethiopian favourite finished down in fourth, 36 seconds behind the stunned victor. It was a result that will reverberate around the athletics world. Bekele doesn't do fourth places. He doesn't do thirds or seconds either. The man who achieved the 5,000m-10,000m double at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and at the World Championships in Berlin last summer – and who happens to have 11 world cross country titles in his possession – had not finished behind another runner in a cross country race since he trailed in the wake of his fellow countryman Haile Gebrselassie in a race in Dunkirk back in December 2001.

Bekele was a loser at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007 but on that occasion he was beaten by the conditions, wilting under the stifling heat and humidity while leading with half a mile to go and failing to finish. In the aftermath yesterday, he attributed his rare encounter with defeat to the Great British whiteout – not so much to the snow today as to the fact he had not been able to train since he left the 20C heat of Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

"I am not in great shape," Bekele said. "I went to London on Wednesday for some promotional work at the 2012 Olympic Stadium and then I came here. I have missed three days of training because of the snow. In the beginning of the race I was OK but after two laps I knew my body was not right. What can I say? It was not my day."

Indeed it was not. The day before, after jogging around a snow-covered track with some pupils from Tynecastle High School, Bekele had been confident of overcoming both the Arctic conditions and his rivals. After all, he had made light of the snow when the New Year cross country meeting was staged down the road in Newcastle in 2003, emerging a decisive victor. He had also won the 2007 event at Holyrood in a gale-force wind and the 2008 race here on a rutted, icy surface.

Bekele also prevailed in fair conditions when the World Cross Country Championships came to the Edinburgh course in the spring of 2008. So did Tirunesh Dibaba. She won the women's race that day and also emulated Bekele with a golden 5,000m-10,000m double at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Unlike her fellow Ethiopian yesterday, though, the diminutive Dibaba got the better of both the snow and the opposition.

She launched her attack at the start of the last of four laps and – with her beautifully smooth, fluent stride – pulled decisively clear of her pursuers, crossing the line at the end of the 6km race in 21min 37sec, 10 seconds ahead of Vivian Cheruiyot, the Kenyan who won the World Championship 5,000m crown in the absence of the injured Dibaba in Berlin last August. It looked like the Ethiopian had skated to victory, though she begged to differ. "This is the first time I have run in snow," Dibaba said. "It was different for me. My body was not used to it. It was not easy for me."

In the battle of the Brits, Hayley Yelling-Higham, the freshly crowned European cross country champion, edged fourth place in a sprint finish from Steph Twell, the world junior 1500m champion, in a sprint finish. In the British-only men's 4km short course race, the emerging young Teessider Ricky Stevenson sprinted to an impressive victory in 13min 20sec, finishing three seconds clear of Steve Vernon.

Mo Farah, the pre-race favourite, went out fast but finished a weary third. "The conditions were very difficult," the European indoor 3,000m champion said. "Just look at Bekele. Even the great man loses in the snow."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home