At the beginning it was Shalane Flanagan who took out the pace, with the African contenders content to let her. Following was Hitomi Niiya, who after a brief rainshower took over the lead as Flanagan faded after the first 8 laps. Niiya held the lead until the final 600 meters as the pack dwindled. That was when Tirunesh Dibaba began to race seriously. Followed by her teammate, Belaynesh Oljira, the two Ethiopians picked up the pace with Kenyans Gladys Cherono and Emily Chebet giving chase, Niiya couldn't handle the acceleration and disappeared from contention. Even Oljira couldn't keep up with Dibaba's smooth pace to gold, she was passed by Cherono who gave a game effort and picked up the silver.