Almaz Ayana wins in Delhi (© Organisers)
Ethiopia’s 2016 Olympic champion Almaz Ayana and Kenya’s world 10,000m and half marathon silver medallist Daniel Ebenyo took top honours at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday (15), winning the World Athletics Gold Label road race in 1:07:58 and 59:27 respectively.
Through the early stages, Ayana ran alongside fellow Ethiopians Aberash MInsewo and Dessie Anchinalu as well as Kenya’s Viola Chepngeno and Uganda’s Chesang, covering the first 5km in 15:45. Vivian Cheruiyot – who also claimed an Olympic gold medal in Rio, hers over 5000m – was slightly behind the lead pack.
Ayana maintained her 16-minute pace for each of the following five-kilometre intervals. She slowed down in the closing stages, but was a comfortable distance ahead of Chesang. Ayana crossed the finish line in 1:07:58, recording her second win in New Delhi following her 1:07:12 triumph in 2017.
Chesang finished 28 seconds later for second place while Chepngeno completed the podium in 1:09:09.
In the men’s race, Ebenyo and compatriot Chales Matata ran with several of their fellow Kenyans, as well as Ethiopia’s Addisu Gobena. The pack stayed together until 13km when Ebenyo and Matata made a break.
They ran together for another five kilometres, but Ebenyo managed to open up a significant lead in the final few kilometres to win in 59:27. Matata clocked 1:00:05 for second place, while Gobena placed third in 1:00:51.
1 Almaz Ayana (ETH) 1:07:58
2 Stella Chesang (UGA) 1:08:28
3 Viola Chepngeno (KEN) 1:09:09
4 Aberash Minsewo (ETH) 1:09:50
5 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:11:26
1 Daniel Ebenyo (KEN) 59:27
2 Chales Matata (KEN) 1:00:05
3 Addisu Gobena (ETH) 1:00:51
4 Isaac Kipkemboi (KEN) 1:00:52
5 Isaia Lasoi (KEN) 1:00:55
Koyama and Suzuki secure places on Japan’s Olympic marathon team
Naoki Koyama and Yuka Suzuki won Japan’s Marathon Grand Championship in Tokyo on Sunday (15), guaranteeing their selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Koyama won in 2:08:57 with Akira Akasaki finishing a close second in 2:09:06, also securing his place on the team. As was the case in Japan’s Olympic selection race for the last Games, Suguru Osako finished third, meaning his selection is only provisional and not yet guaranteed.
Suzuki’s triumph in the women’s race was more clear cut as she won by 34 seconds in 2:24:09. Mao Ichiyama placed second in 2:24:43 while Ai Hosoda took third place (2:24:50).
Former Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi was the early leader of the men’s race, building up a 41-second lead at 25km (1:15:36). His lead was still 34 seconds at 30km, but several athletes in the chase pack started to make a move.
Kawauchi was caught with about seven kilometres remaining, but he didn’t drop back. Just four men remained in contention in the final five kilometres – Kawauchi, Koyama, Osako and Akasaki. Koyama made a decisive move just before 40km, and despite a strong finish from Akasaki and Osako, there was no catching Koyama who won in 2:08:57.
The first big move in the women’s race came at about 23km when Mao Ichiyama opened up a bit of a gap ahead of the rest of the leaders. Hosoda then took a turn in the lead at 30km, but Ichiyama regained it a few kilometres later.
Suzuki caught Hosoda at 36km, and then reeled in Ichiyama about 10 minutes later. In the final four kilometres, Suzuki extended her leading margin and eventually crossed the finish in 2:24:09. Ichiyama held off a strong challenge from Hosoda in the closing stages to hold on to second place.
Diriba leads Ethiopian sweep in Toronto
Buze Diriba smashed her PB to win the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2:23:11, leading an Ethiopian sweep of the first four places at the World Athletics Elite Label road race on Sunday (15).
Despite the windy conditions, the 2012 world U20 5000m champion took almost five minutes off her lifetime best to achieve her first career marathon victory.
Diriba and compatriots Waganesh Mekasha, Afera Godfay and Amid Jemal had closely followed the pacemaker for the first 30km, having passed through the first half in 1:11:01. Mekasha, winner of this year’s Ottawa Marathon, suffered a fuel bottle mishap at 30km, but Diriba’s confidence grew the closer to the finish they ran.
Diriba had the strongest finish and won in 2:23:11. In a close race, just seven seconds separated the top four women as Mekasha (2:23:12), Godfay (2:23:15) and Jemal (2:23:18) followed her across the line.
“I have been training well and I was expecting to win but after 40km I was confident,” said Diriba.
The men’s field agreed at the technical meeting that they wanted to run at 2:07 pace, so when the lead pack passed the halfway point in 1:02:30, observers were worried that they had gone too fast.
Once the eager pacemakers had dropped out by 30km, Kenyan duo Alfred Kipchirchir and Elvis Cheboi started to battle for victory. Cheboi’s experience proved pivotal over marathon debutant Kipchirchir; Cheboi went on to win in a PB of 2:09:20, while Kipchirchir paid for his ambitious start and was overtaken by Adugna Takele in the closing stages.